Burnout is not an indivudal problem, but rather one that stems from workplace culture, healthcare policies, and societal expectations
Burnout has become an epidemic in medicine, with between one-third and one-half of U.S. clinicians experiencing it, according to a report from the National Academy of Medicine. Personal stress management strategies are insufficient to address the issue, and the academy says it must be approached not as an individual problem, but one that results from workplace culture, healthcare policies, and societal expectations.Here are six ways healthcare leaders can reduce burnout, according to the academy.
Create positive work environments
Healthcare organizations should create and maintain an executive leadership role dedicated to clinician well-being. They should continuously monitor and evaluate the extent of burnout in their organization, using validated tools, and report on this at least annually to leaders, managers, and clinicians within the organization.
Address burnout in training and at the early career stage
Medical schools, nursing schools, schools of pharmacy, and others should alleviate major sources of stress by monitoring workload, including preparation for licensure examinations and required training activities, implementing pass-fail grading, improving access to scholarships and affordable loans, and building new loan repayment systems.
Reduce tasks that do not improve patient care
Federal agencies, state legislatures, and other standard-setting entities should identify and address the sources of clinician burnout related to laws, regulations, and policies, eliminating those that contribute little or nothing to patient care
Improve usability and relevance of health IT
Health IT vendors and healthcare organizations should deploy technologies to reduce documentation demands and automate non-essential tasks. In addition, federal policymakers and private sector health IT companies should collaborate to develop the infrastructure and processes that enable shared decision-making between clinicians and patients.
Reduce stigma and improve burnout recovery services
Many clinicians do not report burnout because they fear the potential consequences, including loss of licensure. In order to eliminate the stigma of getting help and to promote recovery and well-being, state legislative bodies should facilitate access to employee assistance programs, peer support programs, and mental health providers without the information being admissible in malpractice litigation.
Create a national research agenda on clinician well-being
By the end of 2020, federal agencies should develop a coordinated research agenda on clinician burnout. Research priorities should include identifying the drivers of burnout across career and life stages for different types of clinicians; burnout’s implications for the workforce as well as patient safety outcomes; and potential systems-level interventions to improve clinician and learner well-being.