The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine last week issued a 312-page report showing that as many as half the nation’s doctors and nurses experience substantial symptoms of burnout.
Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-Being builds upon many similar studies, such as the one produced this year by MHA and the Massachusetts Medical Society that termed physician burnout a public health crisis that not only affects caregivers but the health and well-being of the American public.
The National Academies’ report concludes that burnout is a critical issue that needs immediate action, but that it is also a “complex multi-factorial problem that is not easily solved.”
“Multiple work system factors contribute to clinician burnout (e.g., high workload, administrative burden, poorly designed technologies) and stem from decisions or actions taken at various levels in health care: the local frontline care delivery level, health care organizations, and multiple policy and regulatory actors in the external environment,” the authors write.
Key issues identified include:
“Clinician burnout needs to be tackled early in professional development, and special stressors in the learning environment need to be recognized.
“Stakeholders in the external environment have an important role to play in preventing clinician burnout as their decisions can result in increased burden and other demands that affect clinician burnout. Every attempt at alignment and reduction of requirements to reduce redundancy is essential.
“Technology can either contribute to clinician burnout (e.g., poorly designed electronic health record technologies) or potentially reduce clinician burnout (e.g., well-functioning patient communications, clinical decision support) if it is well designed, implemented, and integrated into clinical workflow. The report reiterates several recommendations of previous IOM and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reports to improve usability, workflow integration, and inter-operability of health information technology.
“Medical societies, state licensing boards, specialty certification boards, medical education and health care delivery organizations all need to take concrete steps to reduce the stigma for clinicians of seeking help for psychological distress, and make assistance more easily available.”