Physician Health

Follow this road map to cut burnout and restore joy in medicine

Tanya Albert Henry , Contributing News Writer

AMA News Wire

Follow this road map to cut burnout and restore joy in medicine

Jun 6, 2023

The health care community must unite to build a culture that is committed to increasing joy in medicine nationwide for the profession. This is where the AMA’s Joy in Medicine Health™ System Recognition Program can help. Designed to empower health systems to reduce burnout and build well-being, it helps create an environment where physicians and patients can thrive. But where should health systems begin? 

The AMA is advocating for you

The AMA has achieved recent wins in 5 critical areas for physicians.

Start with the AMA’s detailed and robust road map for joy in medicine (PDF). This road map walks health systems through the steps it takes to conquer unique challenges they face in building organizational well-being in settings with 100 or more physicians or nonphysician providers.

This document shares the research and strategy that the program is built on and provides resources, tools, case studies and submission examples to create a step-by-step guide to building well-being across a health system. The road map can help organizations that are just beginning a journey to joy in medicine, as well as those already on the path.

“Our vision with the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program is that it will help organizations develop their strategic plan in a way that results in the conditions for physicians and their teams where joy, purpose and meaning in work are possible,” Christine Sinsky, MD, vice president of professional satisfaction at the AMA, says in the road map.

Reducing physician burnout is a critical component of the AMA Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians.

And with far too many U.S. physicians experiencing burnout, the AMA has resources that prioritize well-being and highlight workflow changes so doctors can focus on what matters—patient care.

The road map begins with program eligibility criteria for the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program, including signing the Collaborative for Healing and Renewal in Medicine Charter and having assessed physician well-being in the past three years by using a validated tool such as the AMA’s Organizational Biopsy™ (PDF).

While the road map is designed for anyone to use, it also walks interested organizations through the process of applying to the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program, which has previously recognized more than 70 health systems across the country for their efforts to improve well-being. 

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The road map guides health systems through each program criterion. It also provides resources to help shepherd health systems through an evidence-informed strategy to ensure well-being is a core institutional value.

Six pillars, with criteria that build on one another over time, are included in the strategic road map. Organizations can achieve one of three levels of prioritizing and investing in physician well-being in those areas—bronze, silver or gold.

The six pillars are:

  • Assessment.
  • Commitment.
  • Efficiency of practice environment.
  • Leadership.
  • Teamwork.
  • Support.

Within each pillar, the road map shares what organizations must do to receive bronze, silver or gold level recognition for their work addressing burnout.

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The guide walks through each of the pillars in detail and readers can find first-hand accounts of how other health systems have tackled physician well-being in their organization.

For example, leaders at Bayhealth (PDF) describe their effort to measure physician well-being and incorporate findings into the Delaware-based health system’s long-term strategy. Bayhealth is a member of the AMA Health System Program, which provides enterprise solutions to equip leadership, physicians and care teams with resources to help drive the future of medicine.

Another health system spotlight showcases Southern California Permanente Medical Group (PDF), which shares how the organization used data and well-being assessments to inform strategic solutions, timely and relevant communications and transparent leadership.

The program criteria and resources sections include many more case examples and links to tools to help health systems reduce burnout and improve well-being. Also, the appendix in the road map includes sample questions that are acceptable to ask as part of the assessment, teamwork and leadership areas of the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program.