Does National Academy Consensus Statement set stage for a Physician Wellness Turning Point?

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

physician-burnout-recommendations-NAM-dike-drummond-thehappymd_opt150WWill recent recommendations of the National Academy of Medicine cause meaningful action to address the burnout epidemic?

What do you think?
What are the odds this six pound consensus statement will change your daily experience of seeing patients and dealing with the digital Whirlwind of your work day any time soon?
  • Will we look back 10 years from now and say 2020 is when everything changed?
  • Do calls for a "positive work environment" mean anything when there are no recommendations on HOW to accomplish that feat? 
  • What happens in the C-suite when this call to address physician burnout clashes with the organization's drive to maximize profit and shareholder value? (even non-profits must have a margin!)
Those questions will only be answered in hindsight, years from now.
And we believe it is important you see and understand the recommendations being made on your behalf by this impressive gathering of "experts".
Get Your Corporate Physician Wellness Strategy
WellMDWorks 3-Step Process is at This Link

In this blog post let's do two things:

1) Look at a sampling of specific recommendations and what they could mean to you. I promise to focus only on those few sentences in the 300 pages most likely to effect you directly.

2) Give you a copy of the full recommendations so you can do two things:

    1. Print off two copies and carry them with you at all times.
    2. So when the opportunity arises, you can drop them on your CEO/CMO/CFO's desk and ask that they be adopted in your organization. If your boss can be influenced by consensus statements like this, you want to be ready for their teachable moment

In future blog posts we will dive into why 2020 may indeed be a turning point for physician wellness, at least in the USA, and the single most effective way burnout can get your C-suite to sit up and take notice.

This is Blog Post #317
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Get a copy of the full 300 page report here 

Get your copy of the 5-page recommendations section here - with my highlights of the relevant sentences. This is the one to print and carry for leadership persuasion use. 

"Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-Being"

Buried in the 300+ pages is a set of recommendations all doctors need to know about, especially if you are an employee physician. Each of us needs a couple printed copies of these recommendations at all times, so you can drop them on your leaders' desks and call for action. 
Here are some highlights:

Recommendation 1A.

Health care organizations should develop, pilot, implement, and evaluate organization-wide initiatives to reduce the risk of burnout, foster professional well-being, and enhance patient care by improving the work environment. To accomplish this, they should:

  • Commit their executive and board leadership to monitor and continuously improve the clinical work environment. 
  • Create and maintain, at the health care organization executive level, a leadership role and function responsible for improving and sustaining professional well-being across the organization.
  • Assess the foreseeable impact of business and management decisions on the work environment.
  • Hold leaders at all levels of the organization accountable for improving the work environment within their scope of responsibility.

Recommendation 1B.

To guide new systems that have been designed to promote professional wellbeing
and patient care quality, health care organizations should adopt and apply the following
principles that improve the work environment and balance job demands and job resources.

  • Enhance meaning and purpose in work, and optimize workload and task distribution.
  • Establish and sustain an organization-wide and unit-level culture that supports psychological safety and facilitates participatory decision making and peer support.
  • Align incentives, compensation, and reward systems for clinicians and work units with organizational and professional values.
  • Provide access to resources, such as coaching and adequate time for professional and personal development, to support clinicians in managing stress and adapting to change.

Recommendation 1C.

Health care organizations should routinely measure and monitor clinician burnout.
  • Use validated measurement tools to assess the extent of burnout in their organization and the potential contributory factors relevant to their system.
  • Obtain clinician and patient input to identify and eliminate documentation and other administrative burdens in the organization that are not mandatory and contribute little or no value to patient care. Assess opportunities to utilize clinical assistants or non-clinical staff to perform the work.
  • Conduct reporting, at a minimum annually, overseen by the governing board, on the professional well-being of the organization’s clinicians.
  • Use the data to guide system-oriented efforts to prevent and reduce clinician burnout and improve professional well-being as part of a continuous learning and improvement process where data are shared transparently within the organization.

There you have it. The highlights of the NAM report. Please download a copy for yourself, print out and carry it with you and don't be afraid to share it with your boss ... to see if they can be influenced by consensus statements like this. 


Years from now will this set of recommendations and this report have been the turning point when everything changed for the better?


Tags: physician wellness, stop physician burnout, physician wellbeing