Physician Health

Find the resources your health system needs to improve well-being

Sara Berg, MS , News Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has further strained physicians and the health care system. As the world continues to grapple with COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, physicians and health systems are faced with providing much needed support to doctors and other health professionals. The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has compiled a collection of tools as well as strategies to address systems issues related to physician burnout.

Physician burnout demands urgent action

The AMA is leading the national effort to solve the growing physician burnout crisis. We're working to eliminate the dysfunction in health care by removing the obstacles and burdens that interfere with patient care.

Published on the NAM website, the “Resource Compendium for Health Care Worker Well-Being” is organized into six essential elements—advancing organizational commitment, strengthening leadership behaviors, conducting workplace assessments, examining policies and practices, enhancing workplace efficiency and cultivating a culture of connection and support. These elements are based on six practices to support organizational resiliency and physician well-being.

The compendium is a product of the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, of which the AMA is a sponsor. Christine Sinsky, MD, vice president of professional satisfaction at the AMA, is also part of the collaborative as co-lead for the Working Group on Implementing Tools to Improve Clinician Well-Being.

Here are six essential elements health systems should follow to reduce physician burnout and enhance well-being.

“Organizational commitment involves visible actions and investments to show that a systematic approach to well-being is being undertaken,” says the compendium. The resources in this element include generalized playbooks and multidisciplinary frameworks for leaders and other health professionals to use to change local culture.

To get started, look to the AMA STEPS Forward™ toolkits such as, “Creating the Organizational Foundation for Joy in Medicine” and “Establishing a Chief Wellness Officer Position.”

Related Coverage

Q&A: Meeting doctors at each career stage to promote well-being

“Executive leaders drive key decisions on managing staff and resources, and health care workers can champion healthy environments for their care teams and their patients,” the compendium says. The resources here offer guidance to shape leaders at all levels.

One resource offered is the AMA STEPS Forward toolkit, “Caring for the Healthcare Workforce During Crisis: Creating a Resilient Organization.”

“Assessment is essential to understanding the extent and severity of burnout, and the well-being of the members of any workforce,” says the compendium. For this element, resources include validated tools to assess the status of the workplace. 

The AMA’s Mini-Z Burnout Survey (PDF) is one instrument to measure burnout and assess system-level drivers. Another way to assess financial impacts of burnout is available in the toolkit, “Organizational Cost of Physician Burnout.”

 “A resilient organization will periodically reassess its policies and practices and eliminate those that are no longer relevant or no longer required.”

To help organizations reexamine their current policies and eliminate ones that are irrelevant or unnecessary, check out the “Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff” toolkit or the “Debunking Regulatory Myths” series. This “De-implementation checklist” (PDF) can also help.

Related Coverage

Unvaccinated, flooded, burned out: How Ochsner Health perseveres

To achieve workplace efficiency, the NAM compendium recommends resources “that are geared toward facilitating and streamlining staff duties while maintaining clinical excellence.”

Those include toolkits such as the AMA’s “Saving Time Playbook” (PDF) and “Team Documentation: Improve Efficiency, Workflow, and Patient Care.”

“An organization can best support its health care workforce by giving people the ability to do their jobs and then allowing them to return safely home with time and emotional energy to engage in their personal lives with their family, friends and community,” says the compendium.

Resources to do that include the “Peer Support Programs for Physicians” toolkit, and “Success Story: COMPASS Groups Rejuvenate Relationships and Reduce Burnout,” among others.

The information and resources provided through the compendium align with the AMA Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program, which provides a road map for health system leaders to implement programs and policies that support physician well-being. Last year, the AMA recognized 44 health systems from across the country who met the robust and vital criteria.

Read the program guidelines (PDF) for a comprehensive look at the criteria and apply for 2022 recognition today.

AMA STEPS Forward toolkits are part of  AMA Ed Hub™, an online platform with top-quality CME and education that supports the professional development needs of physicians and other health professionals.

Learn more about AMA CME accreditation