The national plan aims to increase the well-being of health workers

The National Academy of Medicine’s Collaborative Action for Clinician Well-Being and Resilience launched a plan this month aimed at spurring collective action to restore the health and well-being of healthcare workers. The vision presented by NAM is that healthier healthcare workers equal better outcomes, lower costs and improved patient care.

The plan identifies seven priority areas for the well-being of the health workforce:

• Create and maintain a positive work and learning environment and culture. Transform health systems and health education and training by prioritizing and investing in efforts to optimize environments that prevent and reduce burnout, promote professional well-being, and sustain quality care.

• Invest in measurement, evaluation, strategies and research. Expand the use of existing tools at the health system level and advance national research to reduce health worker burnout and improve well-being.

• Supports mental health and reduces stigma. Provide support to health workers by removing barriers and reducing the stigma associated with seeking the services needed to address mental health challenges.

• Address compliance, regulatory and policy barriers to day-to-day operations. Prevent and reduce unnecessary burdens resulting from laws, regulations, policies and standards imposed on healthcare workers.

• Use effective technology tools. Optimizing and expanding the use of health information technologies that support healthcare workers in providing high-quality patient care and population health services, and minimizing technologies that impede clinical decision-making or increase administrative burden.

• Institutionalizing welfare as a long-term value. Ensure that recovery efforts from COVID-19 focus on the well-being of healthcare workers now and in the future, and strengthen public health and healthcare systems for future emergencies.

• Recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive health workforce. Promote careers in the health professions and increase pathways and systems for a diverse, inclusive and thriving workforce.

According to NAM, the plan is intended to be a starting point that will help coordinate action across the field and provide a roadmap for developing a health system where health is delivered “joyfully and meaningfully” by an engaged team, in partnership with committed patients and communities. It will take the collective efforts of many individuals, organizations, and coalitions of actors to reverse trends in health worker burnout.

There are 10 key elements to driving a successful national movement, and the NAM Clinician Well-Being Collaborative has been working on several of these elements since 2017. Here’s an overview:

1. Frame the crisis In 2017, NAM established the Clinician Well-Being Collaborative to raise the visibility of clinical anxiety, burnout, depression, and suicidality, recognizing that clinician well-being is essential to safe, high-quality patient care. The work of the Clinician Well-Being Collaborative before and during the COVID-19 pandemic recognizes the challenges facing healthcare workers as systemic, complex and long-lasting.

2. Strengthening science NAM published the report, Taking action against physician burnout: A systems approach to professional well-being in 2019, The Clinician Well-Being Collaborative is also a leader in identifying evidence-based strategies to improve clinician well-being at both the individual and system levels. Products include an online knowledge center, a series of NAM Perspectives documents, and a conceptual model that reflects areas affecting clinician well-being.

3. Build a coalition At its inception, the Clinician Well-Being Collaborative focused on fostering a community of diverse stakeholders across the health care system. More than 200 organizations have joined the Clinician WellBeing Collaborative network, making a visible commitment to addressing clinician burnout and supporting the work and priorities of the Clinician WellBeing Collaborative at the local level.

4. Assess the environment and politics Collaborative working groups have identified evidence-based strategies for engaging leadership, breaking the culture of silence, organizing promising practices and metrics, addressing workload and workflow, and acting on recommendations to improve clinician well-being. Recent focus areas include mobilizing national stakeholders, reviewing and implementing lessons from COVID-19, and implementing evidence-based tools for physician well-being.

5. Make the economic case NAM’s report on taking action against clinical burnout highlighted the wide-ranging consequences of burnout at the personal, organizational and societal levels. The report estimates $4.6 billion in societal costs each year in the U.S. due to the U.S. clinical workforce reporting significant symptoms of burnout. The Clinician Well-Being Collaborative launched a Health Worker Well-Being Resource Compendium, including tools for calculating the organizational costs of burnout and other resources for health care leaders and workers to use across practices.

6. Get the government involved The Clinician Well-Being Collaborative has more than 100 members from various sectors who participate in working groups, including representatives from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and the Veterans Health Administration . In 2021, the Office of the Surgeon General joined the Clinician Well-Being Collaborative to co-lead with NAM, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

7. Create a plan The priorities, goals and actions set out in the National Plan are urgent but complex. NAM created a National Plan to focus on the immediate and long-term needs of the health workforce with the intention of goals and actions to ensure a sustainable state of well-being. Each actor and sector should identify the most pressing priorities or promising opportunities and develop short-, medium- and long-term action plans according to available resources and in collaboration with other actors.

NAM now focuses on the last three elements:

8. Communicate the details of the national plan in detail

9. Activate changemakers to spark action across the country

10. Inspire national plan advocacy

For more information on the plan, click here.

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