UW Medicine recognized for physician well-being efforts

AMA’s “Joy in Medicine” program celebrates efforts to improve clinicians’ satisfaction and reduce burnout.

Media Contact: Susan Gregg - 206-390-3226; sghanson@uw.edu

The American Medical Association has recognized UW Medicine for its efforts to improve physician well-being and reduce provider burnout. 

The honor is part of the AMA’s “Joy in Medicine” Health System Recognition Program, launched in 2017 to encourage the use of evidence-based solutions to address the growing U.S. problem of healthcare burnout.

In recent years, health professionals have increasingly reported finding their work emotionally exhausting and devoid of personal fulfillment. The disillusionment takes a toll on personal well-being and affects the quality of care they provide. 

According to recent studies, two-thirds of U.S. physicians report feeling burnout and one in five is considering leaving the field. In a 2022 UW Medicine survey of its faculty physicians, advanced practice providers and trainees, 51% reported experiencing significant burnout.

“It’s deeply concerning that over half of our workforce is experiencing a high level of burnout as they move through their workday,” said Anne Browning, associate dean for well-being at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “There is an urgent need for us to make an investment in taking care of our people.”

One major contributor to burnout is the growing demand that providers spend more time with administrative chores and less time with patients, Browning said. 

“Our healthcare providers have to spend an increasingly higher percentage of their time calling insurance companies, responding to emails and working to document all their care instead of doing what they are truly passionate about: having face-to-face interactions with their patients and performing the surgeries and procedures they trained to do.” 

To address the problem, in 2021 UW Medicine joined the Healthcare Professional Well-being Academic Consortium, an organization of 30 academic medical centers that develops surveys to assess clinician satisfaction and interventions to curb burnout. 

Participation in the consortium has helped UW Medicine to take a more systems-level approach to workplace fulfillment and burnout, and to address them more strategically, Browning said.

Using data and comments collected from the 2022 survey, Browning and colleagues are working with the clinical department chairs and the leaders of clinical sites to develop programs and policies that curb the trend.

Browning said the aim is “to identify what are the biggest challenges and what interventions are working and, using data from our surveys, to build out plans for improved interventions.”

The AMA gave UW Medicine a “bronze” recognition, among 34 other top medical centers in the country for 2023. This is a first step in a tiered roadmap to build a thriving community and well-being in the workplace. 

The initial efforts include conducting surveys to assess job satisfaction, sharing the results, and establishing a dedicated well-being committee or office. 

“We are building a strategic plan toward earning gold recognition in the next two years,” said Browning.

UW Medicine also has implemented initiatives promoting a culture of well-being, improving practice efficiency to reduce the burden of such tasks as record keeping, and training in techniques to develop personal resilience.  For clinicians who face particular challenges, there is a peer-to-peer support program, improved access to mental health services and assistance in cases that involve litigation. 

UW Medicine’s CEO, Dr. Timothy Dellit, said one of his top priorities is to “integrate our clinical, equity, research, education, and well-being activities in a way that we have not systemically done in the past. It’s important to have a community where all members feel valued, have a strong sense of belonging, and thrive.”

Written by Michael McCarthy.


For details about UW Medicine, please visit http://uwmedicine.org/about.

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