Physician Health

How these health systems are reducing physician burnout

Sara Berg, MS , News Editor

The national rate of physician burnout has fallen from the record-high levels seen during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet with half of physicians still experiencing symptoms of burnout, it is evident that more needs to be done to enhance professional satisfaction and well-being. Some forward-looking health systems are rising to the challenge.

AMA Health System Program

Providing enterprise solutions to equip your leadership, physicians and care teams with resources to advance your programs while being recognized as a leader. 

Such efforts are supported by the reality that rekindling physicians’ joy in medicine improves a health system’s financial performance while enhancing recruitment and retention. A greater sense of fulfillment in medicine translates to fewer physicians leaving their practices or the field entirely.

Here is a list of how members 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—are tackling physician burnout and finding ways to improve the well-being of their workforce.

  1. Baptist Health Medical Group shifts its well-being focus

    1. When Baptist Health’s burnout rate rose to 58% it was still below the national average at the time, which led Shawn C. Jones, MD, to take a new approach to improving well-being. Based on the increase in burnout at Baptist Health, Dr. Jones made some recommendations to deepen personal coaching for physicians in leadership positions, found ways to make people feel appreciated and took steps to address EHR issues.
  2. Bayhealth says calling physicians "providers" is not OK

    1. As part of its overall efforts to improve well-being, Bayhealth says calling physicians “providers” is not OK. That’s because “some physicians find it a very negative and derogatory term to address them,” said Thomas Vaughan, MD. “It is felt to have come from insurance companies and others who are trying to make medicine transactional, as opposed to a relationship between patients and physicians,” and it can impact burnout too.
  3. Confluence Health eases burnout by boosting staff training

    1. Confluence Health system in Central Washington is taking bold steps to implement innovative strategies to cut stress, enhance work-life balance and foster a culture of support. And these efforts are being noticed.
  4. Geisinger hires its first chief wellness officer

    1. Effective chief wellness officers must inhabit many traits. They must have compassion, empathy and patience, as well as tenacity and resilience. They should also have a keen understanding of the health care system, according to Susan Parisi, MD. Such a job too often also has no road map, which is why chief wellness officers frequently have to build the road as they go, noted Dr. Parisi. But there’s no substitute for that firsthand knowledge of the factors that drive physician burnout.
  5. Hattiesburg Clinic embraces data

    1. As a multispecialty practice that is physician-owned and -governed, Hattiesburg Clinic gets the best of both worlds—the benefits of a large health system and private practice. This has likely contributed to the organization’s outstanding performance on measures of physician burnout, job satisfaction and stress. Yet Hattiesburg Clinic still has more to accomplish on its well-being journey, and is smartly embracing data to get there.  
  6. Henry Ford Health removes invasive questions

    1. Getting invasive questions about past mental health diagnosis or treatment removed from licensing and credentialing applications can be an effective way of supporting well-being and removing a barrier to physicians getting the help they need. But even when these changes are made, the impact can be blunted if doctors are unaware of them. Learn how Henry Ford is getting the word out.
  7. Northwest Permanente is changing its culture

    1. When T. Ruth Chang, MD, MPH, became the chief people officer at Northwest Permanente in 2018, she realized that health care is about people taking care of other people. While her title is chief people officer, the professional role is similar to a chief wellness officer in that well-being is a key part of the organization’s people strategy. But for Dr. Chang, it’s also about looking at well-being more holistically to support the people.
  8. Ochsner Health focuses on leadership development

    1. Nigel Girgrah, MD, PhD, chief wellness officer at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, participated in a leadership program that was so life-changing, even his wife commented on the difference she saw in him. That’s why Dr. Girgrah decided to implement what he learned at Ochsner Health. Addressing the heart of leaders became the next major focus in Ochsner’s well-being strategy.
  9. The Permanente Medical Group gives autonomy, flexibility

    1. When tackling physician burnout, health care leaders must be prepared to use every tool in the well-being armamentarium—from organizational culture to practice efficacy—as part of a holistic framework. Learn how urologist Amanjot Singh Sethi, MD, is doing just that as director of wellness operations at the nation’s largest medical group.
  10. Privia Health reduces physicians’ administrative burden

    1. The largest clinically integrated network in Connecticut has taken measures to ensure that its 750 physicians receive the health IT tools and administrative support they need to reduce burnout and maintain their independent status. Learn how working with Privia Health helps.
  11. Sanford Health keeps pressing on to prevent doctor burnout  

    1. When Sanford Health measured physician burnout in 2022, they found that the levels remained little changed from what they had been in 2019, despite systemwide efforts. That outcome was, naturally, disappointing, but leaders at the Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based health system realized their numbers told a different story and offered them opportunities for further their work to boost physicians’ well-being.
  12. The Southeast Permanente Medical Group brings IT to the table

    1. A systemic approach employed by The Southeast Permanente Medical Group not only resulted in tangible positive outcomes but has also garnered bronze-level recognition from the AMA Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program. But there is more to do, especially when it comes to the electronic clerical burdens imposed on physicians. Find out why bringing IT leaders to the discussion is a key next step.
  13. Texas Children’s Pediatrics listens to physician concerns

    1. In 2022, 55% of pediatricians reported experiencing burnout, and a staggering 48% said they did not feel valued. Leaders at Texas Children’s Pediatrics have found a way to reduce burnout among physicians while improving their sense of feeling valued, and it comes down to one word: communication.
  14. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health focuses on staffing

    1. Shortages of adequate staffing have been widespread in health care, exacerbating burnout, and Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is not immune. This has become the subject of short-term focus—with the solution being to continue Virginia Mason Franciscan Health’s long-term strategy for recruiting and retaining employees.
  15. Washington Permanente Medical Group thinks of well-being in every decision

    1. To combat burnout, Washington Permanente Medical Group applies a well-being lens to every decision. That’s because the health-and-wellness team can’t change the culture of well-being alone. It takes the entire organization.

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.