by Kate Alfano, CMS Director of Communications and Marketing

Two Colorado health systems joined 42 others around the country in being recognized for their efforts to reduce work-related burnout. UCHealth Southern Region and UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus were named as recipients of the American Medical Association's 2021 Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program.

“The Colorado Medical Society applauds these two UCHealth campuses for their work to address burnout at the systems level,” said CMS President Mark B. Johnson, MD, MPH. “Healthy physicians provide better care. Together we can promote physician professional satisfaction and move the needle on physician burnout, suicide and other crises resulting from the intense pressure and responsibility of medical practice.”

Candidates for the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program were evaluated according to their documented efforts to reduce work-related burnout through system-level drivers. Scoring criteria was based on demonstrated competencies in commitment, assessment, leadership, efficiency of practice environment, teamwork and support.

“We are thrilled to be alongside so many outstanding organizations as we all progress in our journey to decrease burnout and enhance the inherent Joy in Medicine that brought us all to this field,” said Elizabeth Harry, MD, UCHealth’s senior medical director of well-being. “We are excited to continue our journey in this space with all of our care team partners as we navigate the ever-changing pressure health care faces.”

“When we created the Physician Wellness Program in UCHealth’s southern Colorado region, we recognized that we needed to address the system-based drivers of burnout as well as promote the individual resilience of physicians,” said Robert Lam, MD, director of physician wellness and an emergency medicine physician. “We wanted to make sure we were working to measure the root causes of the burnout epidemic as we continually strive to make the workplace better for our medical staff. This recognition highlights that efforts are aligned with the best practices of creating an optimal working environment to promote the joy of practicing medicine.”

In a news release about the awards, the AMA cited a national study that examined the experiences of physicians and other health care workers who worked in health care systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study’s authors found that 38 percent self-reported experiencing anxiety or depression, while 43 percent suffered from work overload and 49 percent had burnout.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed extraordinary stress on physicians and other health care professionals,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, in the release. “While it is always important for health systems to focus on the well-being of care teams, the imperative is greater than ever as acute stress from combatting the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to higher rates of work overload, anxiety and depression. The health systems we recognize are true leaders in promoting an organizational response that makes a difference in the lives of the health care workforce.”

View all recipients here: ■ 

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine