The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has initiated a groundbreaking federal campaign to encourage hospitals to monitor and address burnout among their healthcare workers. Named “Impact Wellbeing,” this campaign offers the healthcare industry a comprehensive set of free resources that outline strategies hospital leadership can employ to enhance the well-being of their staff.
These resources were developed through a collaborative effort between the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation, an advocacy group dedicated to clinician wellness.
The campaign’s primary objective is to address the pervasive issue of burnout in the healthcare sector, which has reached alarming levels. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a study conducted by the National Academy of Medicine reported signs of burnout among 35% to 45% of nurses and 40% to 60% of medical students.
Recent data from the CDC has also revealed an increase in feelings of burnout, stress, anxiety, and depression among healthcare workers, which is strongly linked to a rise in harassment incidents.
Healthcare leaders who have raised concerns about healthcare worker burnout emphasize the downstream consequences of clinicians leaving the field. This includes a predicted national shortage of 37,000 to 124,000 physicians over the next decade, which could severely strain access to care.
John Howard, M.D., director of NIOSH, stated that healthcare workers have long faced challenging working conditions, which contribute to burnout. These conditions include extended work hours, exposure to hazardous situations, high levels of stress, and excessive administrative burdens.
Hospital leaders require support to implement organizational changes aimed at reducing burnout and strengthening professional well-being within their institutions.
Among the valuable resources provided by the Impact Wellbeing campaign is a Worker Well-Being Questionnaire that hospitals can use to assess the current state of their workforce. Additionally, the campaign offers a workbook outlining the fundamentals for launching new Total Worker Health initiatives within an organization.
The campaign also includes a toolkit from the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation, which assists hospitals in removing mental health-related questions from their credentialing applications. This particular step is critical, as it addresses a common fear among clinicians when seeking help.
J. Corey Feist, co-founder and president of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation, emphasized the importance of allowing healthcare workers to access mental health care without fearing job-related consequences. Dr. Lorna Breen’s experience highlighted this barrier, as she feared being ostracized at work if she admitted to needing help. Tragically, shortly afterward, she died by suicide.
The foundation has heard from numerous families who have lost healthcare worker loved ones to suicide, and their concerns echo Dr. Breen’s experience.
Impact Wellbeing Campaign Is Practical And Feasible
NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health Director Casey Chosewood, M.D., stressed that while addressing some of the root causes of healthcare worker burnout may take time, the adjustments recommended in the campaign are both practical and feasible for hospital systems to implement.
Moreover, the campaign recognizes the importance of healthcare leadership in fostering a culture of well-being. Specifically, NIOSH recommended that:
- Managers and supervisors make use of paid time off, sick leave, family leave, and rest breaks and ensure workers have time to do the same.
- Front-line supervisors receive training in supportive supervision to help staff balance their work responsibilities.
- Leadership normalizes conversations within the organization about seeking mental health services and encourages senior personnel to publicly discuss receiving help for their mental health concerns. These guidelines are outlined in the campaign’s Leadership Storytelling Guide.
The Impact Wellbeing campaign reflects a crucial initiative in addressing the long-standing issue of burnout among healthcare workers. By providing free resources, strategies, and tools, it aims to foster a healthier work environment for healthcare professionals and ultimately improve patient care.
The campaign’s release coincides with the increasing recognition of the need to prioritize the well-being of healthcare workers, who play a vital role in delivering quality medical care.
Burnout not only affects healthcare workers personally but also has profound implications for the healthcare system as a whole. With the Impact Wellbeing campaign, the CDC takes a significant step toward improving the mental health and overall well-being of healthcare workers.
The healthcare industry now has access to valuable resources to combat burnout and support the dedicated professionals who are at the frontline of patient care.
The campaign acknowledges the challenges faced by healthcare workers and provides tangible solutions that institutions can implement to create a more supportive and nurturing work environment.