On March 2, 2021, the AMA held a webinar in the AMA STEPS Forward™ series: "Cognitive workload: A modifiable contributor to physician burnout?"
Elizabeth Harry, MD, and Christine Sinsky, MD, discuss findings from their study, "Physician Task Load and the Risk of Burnout Among U.S. Physicians in a National Survey," published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety in 2020.
This investigation found that physicians with higher levels of cognitive workload have higher rates of burnout. The findings provide a framework to approach the practice environment by focusing on cognitive ergonomics that improve how processes are designed and implemented, for example, by evaluating the effort and the time demand required to complete tasks and considering ways to decrease or distribute both.
The authors also discussed approaches that health care organization leaders can take to address system issues to reduce burnout and promote physician well-being.
Christine Sinsky, MD, vice president of professional satisfaction, American Medical Association
Dr. Sinsky is the vice president of professional satisfaction at the American Medical Association. Dr. Sinsky has worked to elevate national awareness of health professional well-being as an important driver of health system performance. In 2012 she led “In Search of Joy in Practice: A Report of 23 High-Functioning Primary Care Practices”. With a colleague she introduced the framework of the “Quadruple Aim” in 2013 as a health system goal. At the AMA she leads the development of initiatives to improve clinician well-being, working on research, policy, technology and educational fronts to increase the opportunities for joy, purpose and meaning in work.
Elizabeth Harry, MD, senior director of clinical affairs, University of Colorado Hospital and visiting associate professor of medicine, University of Colorado Hospital School of Medicine -Division of Hospital Medicine
Dr. Harry is the senior director of clinical affairs at the University of Colorado Hospital and visiting associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Hospital School of Medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine. She has been at Hospitalist for eight years and practiced at the University of Colorado for four years. She was at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for four years where she was the assistant medical director: director of faculty development and well-being for the Brigham and Women’s Physicians Organization as well as the faculty liaison for graduate medical education well-being for Partners Healthcare GME programs. At the University of Colorado Hospital, as senior director of clinical affairs, her scope is faculty engagement and well-being. She works to help faculty, both physicians and advanced practice providers, enhance engagement in patient experience as well as address issues regarding well-being.