Telemedicine During COVID-19 Response: A Welcome Shift for Younger Female Healthcare Workers

J Gen Intern Med. 2023 Feb;38(3):627-632. doi: 10.1007/s11606-022-07785-x. Epub 2022 Sep 20.


Background: Healthcare workers, especially female employees, have historically been at an increased risk for occupational stress. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare workers shifted to a telework model of care and started working from home (WFH). It is unclear how WFH impacted female healthcare employees' job satisfaction and stress levels.

Objective: To further understand the impact of WFH on job satisfaction and stress among female healthcare employees.

Design: An exploratory survey was utilized. Data was evaluated with generalized linear models and logistic regression. Data was collected March to April 2021, between the third and fourth COVID waves in the U.S.A.

Participants: All employees (approximately 1050) within the Veterans Affairs Central Western Massachusetts (VACWM) Healthcare System were invited to participate. We received 220 responses with most (78.6%) respondents identifying as female.

Main measures: A Work-from-Home Satisfaction Scale and the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) Compassion Satisfaction and Burnout Scales.

Key results: A majority of our participants (> 60%) strongly agreed that WFH during COVID-19 increased their work satisfaction and their ability to feel safe and reduced overall stress levels. Female respondents reported that WFH increased their ability to feel safe, reduced overall stress, and did not interfere with work efficiency when compared to male respondents. Overall, reported burnout was low, with only 32.7% of respondents scoring in the moderate category on the PROQOL burnout scale and no respondents scoring in the high burnout category.

Conclusions: Employees at this VA medical center who had the ability to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly younger women, reported less stress, less burnout, and more satisfaction, while maintaining work efficiency and team cohesion. Providing permission to WFH may decrease the added burden that female healthcare workers often experience as they strive to overcome gender gaps and inequalities in the workplace.

Keywords: burnout; provider satisfaction; telework; women’s careers.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine*