Here are 11 actions the U.S. Surgeon General recommends for federal, state, local and tribal governments to curb physician and medical staff burnout.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA, published “Addressing Health Worker Burnout: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on Building a Thriving Health Workforce,” on May 23, 2022.
In January 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), invested $103 million to support evidence-informed programs, practices, and trainings on preventing and addressing burnout, suicide, mental health challenges, and substance use challenges, including technical assistance.
This whole-of-government effort within HHS includes recommendations for a thriving workforce such as expanding peer workforce initiatives that include behavioral health coordination, recovery and resilience-focused initiatives and resources.
Many states have enacted laws that protect their public health officials from harassment, threats, and acts of violence. Health workers, organization leaders, human services decision makers and public health stakeholders should join to form implementation strategies.
These efforts, developed with federal, state, and local stakeholders, address health worker burnout, resiliency, and morale and support a culture of wellbeing.
Those models should include steps to revalue components of the health care system that prevent disease, promote health and wellbeing, address health information, improve care quality, while reducing spending, advancing health equity, and addressing health worker wellbeing.
The act establishes grants and requires activities to improve mental and behavioral health among health care providers.
That was recommended by The Joint Commission in 2020, the Federation of State Medical Boards, and is aligned with the American with Disabilities Act.
Flexible care models could include telehealth and virtual care, with extended hours. The mental health workforce should be expanded and diverse.
Two ways to start are by paying health care workers what they are worth and by expanding Graduate Medical Education positions to add physicians who will serve future needs.
Governments should expand access to health insurance for all, commit to improving health equity and build trust between underserved communities and health workers.