As the COVID-19 pandemic placed acute stress on care teams across the country, it exacerbated long-standing system issues and caused physician burnout rates to spike dramatically. And even though the federally declared public health emergency has expired—and the worst days of the pandemic are in the past—the lingering impact of work-related burnout remains an ongoing obstacle that health systems across the U.S. are dedicated to tackling.
Seventy-two health care organizations, representing more than 120,000 physicians, are being honored by the 2023 AMA Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program. That is an increase from the 28 organizations in 2022, who all earned bronze recognition. This year’s recognition represents the outstanding efforts these organizations have initiated to address the systemic causes of physician burnout in areas such as commitment, assessment, leadership, teamwork, peer support and practice-environment efficiency.
“Health organizations that have earned recognition from the AMA’s Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program are leading a national movement that has declared the well-being of health professionals to be an essential element for providing high-quality care to patients, families and communities,” said AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH.
Each year, the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program recognizes organizations from across the country for their dedication to building well-being and reducing physician burnout in their organization. Recognition levels are valid for two years and organizations are supported and encouraged to increase their recognition level over time.
In 2019—the program’s inaugural year—the AMA honored 22 organizations’ commitment to cutting doctor burnout. The program was paused in 2020 as the country first grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. After that pause, the AMA recognized 44 health systems in 2021 that stepped up as COVID-19 strained the nation’s doctors. These organizations are becoming a network for thought leadership, shared learnings and change agency through AMA-convened events.
Ongoing dedication to well-being
Physician burnout reached an all-time high of 64% in the last quarter of 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. But with COVID-19 moving into a less deadly, endemic stage in 2022, physicians across the country saw some relief in their stress levels with an overall burnout rate of 53%, according to an exclusive survey from the AMA.
While data from the AMA’s benchmarking report includes signs that physician burnout has fallen since its peak in late 2021, the extent of the problem is a startling reality that demands attention, especially through the improvement of systemic drivers that further impact those who are at higher risk.
"The goal of the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program is to unite the health care community in building a nationwide culture committed to the well-being of clinical care teams by helping health organizations invest in action plans promoting professional fulfillment and meaning that clinicians find in caring for their patients,” said AMA Vice President of Professional Satisfaction Christine Sinsky, MD.
Reducing physician burnout is a critical component of the AMA Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians.
Far too many American physicians experience burnout. That's why the AMA develops resources that prioritize well-being and highlight workflow changes so physicians can focus on what matters—patient care.
There are three levels of recognition in the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program: bronze, silver and gold.
This year, 10 health systems earned gold level recognition. They are:
- Atrium Health.
- Northwestern Medicine.
- Ochsner Health.
- Sanford Health.
- Southern California Permanente Medical Group.
- Stanford Medicine.
- The Permanente Medical Group.
- UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Find out which organizations earned silver and bronze level recognition from the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program.
Additionally, among those recognized are seven organizations who are members of the AMA Health System Program, which provides additional enterprise solutions to equip leadership, physicians and care teams with resources to help drive the future of medicine. They are Confluence Health, Geisinger, Ochsner Health, Sanford Health, The Permanente Medical Group, The Southeast Permanente Medical Group and Washington Permanente Medical Group.
Applications for 2024 recognition will open in early January. Interested organizations will need to complete a self-assessment and attestation according to program criteria. To learn more about applying, organizations can submit an intent-to-apply form to get additional information and updates. For more information on the Joy in Medicine Recognition Program, email the AMA’s practice-transformation team.