COVID-19: Tips for Healthcare Workers on the Front Lines


As cases of COVID-19 increase, health care workers are increasingly worried not only about their patients and their families but about becoming sick themselves. If you’re a health care worker on the frontlines of COVID-19, it is essential to take care of yourself — so you can take care of others. Read on for specific tips to help you cope with the challenges of delivering care during a pandemic.

Challenges unique to health care workers

Health care workers have unique responsibilities that may expose them to COVID-19, including:

  • Triaging potentially infected people
  • Performing interventions, often in less-controlled environments

Regardless of your role, the coronavirus-specific challenges are the same and include:

  • Meeting the needs and demands of an increasing patient census
  • Avoiding infection
  • Providing both medical and emotional support to patients
  • Balancing work and family responsibilities
  • Addressing job-related stress and fear

Stress response to COVID-19

Given the challenges and uncertainty, it is common for health care workers to have both physical and emotional responses to the stress. They include:

Emotional symptoms

It is normal for you to feel:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Guilt
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Sadness

Physical symptoms

You may experience these with or without emotional signs. They include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Exhaustion
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Pain

Coping tips for health care workers battling COVID-19

As a health care worker on the front lines of COVID-19, you play a noble role in caring for your community. It is essential for you to reduce the anxiety and fear you may feel with these four strategies:

Gain power through knowledge

  • Learn as much about your role as possible to limit feelings of uncertainty
  • Brush up on ancillary skills you may need when the surge hits
  • Study and follow the protocols that have been established to keep you safe

Meet your emotional needs

  • Know your limits and communicate with your supervisor if you have feelings of extreme exhaustion or depression
  • Seek medical help if you are concerned because you made contact with a person who has COVID-19
  • Balance work and family obligations — create new family routines and take breaks when necessary

Plan ahead

  • Identify child care opportunities in the event you need them
  • Find alternate accommodations should you become exposed
  • Schedule regular meal breaks and social time

Control what you can

  • Continue treating patients as you normally would until you are called upon for disaster relief
  • Practice physical distancing while delivering high-quality care
  • Follow all infection-control protocols
  • Stay abreast of changes by following trusted sources
  • Shift routine patient care to telemedicine, if possible

Need more coping strategies? Read our comprehensive guide to reducing anxiety and fear from COVID-19. And, stay up to date with coronavirus information from UCLA Health.

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