Harris, surgeon general warn of health care worker burnout

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. surgeon general / ˈsɜr dʒən ˈdʒɛn ər əl / (n.) – a government official who manages a country’s public health department    

    His medical and political background makes him a perfect candidate for surgeon general.

  2. burnout / ˈbɜrnˌaʊt / (n.) – a state wherein someone isn’t excited anymore and is very tired because of doing a job for a long time

    My friend eventually experienced burnout after five years of working in sales.

  3. sound the alarm / saʊnd ði əˈlɑrm / (idiom) – to warn people about something dangerous

    Many experts continue to sound the alarm about the impacts of climate change.

  4. well-being / ˈwɛlˈbi ɪŋ / (n.) – the state of being happy and healthy

    Meditation and yoga can contribute to one’s well-being.

  5. push / pʊʃ / (n.) – a great and continuous effort to achieve something

    The residents are making a push to stop the casino construction in the city.


Read the text below.

Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a warning Monday about burnout among the nation’s health care staff after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the potential for severe worker shortages in the years ahead if the situation is not addressed.

“You do so much to take care of your patients in their time of need,” Harris told health care workers as she visited Children’s National Hospital in Washington with Murthy on Monday. “Which is why I’m here to say, we need to do a better job of taking care of you.”

Murthy issued a new report sounding the alarm over a projected shortage of 3 million “essential low-wage health workers” in the next five years, and nearly 140,000 doctors by 2033.

“People are really struggling,” Murthy said. “After two years of COVID-19 and more than 1 million precious lives lost, the people we all turn to to keep us safe, to comfort us and help us heal, they have been pushed to their limits.”

The administration is calling for new investments and steps to protect the mental well-being of health care workers; that includes expanding counseling offerings, reducing administrative burdens and promoting worker safety on the job.

Unless changes are made, Murthy said, the country will be less prepared for future public health emergencies and “we will send a message to millions of health care workers that their suffering does not matter.”

The initiative comes as the Biden administration is mounting a nationwide push to address mental health issues. President Joe Biden unveiled a national strategy to expand mental health and drug abuse treatment during his State of the Union address in March.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • How similar is the situation of health care workers in the US to those in your country? Discuss.
  • What is your government doing to support health care workers during the pandemic (ex. giving paid vacation, increasing their salary)? Do you think this is enough? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The Biden administration is mounting a nationwide push to address mental health issues. Do you think mental health is important? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, how should companies support employees’ mental health (ex. give free access to counseling, discourage overtime work)? Discuss.