In response to alarming evidence of high rates of depression and suicide among U.S. healthcare workers, the National Academy of Medicine is launching a wide-ranging "action collaborative" of multiple organizations to promote clinician well-being and resilience. To date, more than 20 professional and educational organizations have committed to the NAM-led initiative, which will identify priorities and collective efforts to advance evidence-based solutions and promote multidisciplinary approaches that will reverse the trends in clinician stress and ultimately improve patient care and outcomes.
"It's disturbing that so many clinicians are stressed out and overwhelmed, but even more so when we consider the impact on patients and society," said NAM President Victor J. Dzau, chair of the initiative. "Addressing this problem will require individual, organizational, and systems-level reform. The NAM is committed to leading this collaborative effort in finding workable solutions that will ultimately benefit us all."
Clinician burnout has been linked to increased medical errors and patient dissatisfaction, and recent research has shown that declines in the well-being of healthcare professionals cut across all ages, stages, and career paths - from trainees to experienced practitioners. As many as 400 physicians commit suicide each year, double the suicide rate of the general U.S. population, according to one study. A survey of more than 6,000 physicians conducted over a three-year period found that they have twice the risk of burnout compared with other professions. And the problem is not unique to physicians - nurses and other clinicians also report high rates of dissatisfaction and stress. For example, a 2007 study found that 24 percent of intensive care nurses and 14 percent of general nurses tested positive for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Some organizations have begun work to address clinician burnout on their own, but we know that this is a complex problem that no single solution is going to fix," said co-chair of the initiative Darrell G. Kirch, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges. "The NAM's platform will unite stakeholders from across the country and bring a much-needed multifaceted approach to clinician well-being."
"We need to better understand the causes of clinician burnout and depression and advance evidence-based solutions that reverse these troubling trends," added co-chair Thomas J. Nasca, CEO of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and of ACGME International.
The collaborative begins this month with public workshops and meetings scheduled throughout 2017. For more information or to register to receive updates, visit https://nam.edu/initiatives/clinician-resilience-and-well-being.