October 18, 2022
The capacity and well-being of the U.S. health workforce has been under threat for years by an epidemic of burnout, and two years of the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated this issue. Now at least 40% of nurses, 20% of physicians, and more than 25% of state and local public health department employees are considering leaving their professions.
Recognizing the devastating impact this could have on the U.S. health system, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience recently launched the National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being.
The National Plan demonstrates that investment in health worker well-being must come from multiple levels. Health leaders and other key decision-makers across sectors – with support from frontline workers and the public – must collectively support a new social contract that begins with a coordinated national movement and system of evaluation and accountability. The National Plan visualizes that, when all actors take responsibility, we can create a health system in which care is delivered joyfully and with meaning, by a committed care team, in partnership with engaged patients and communities.
“Even before the COVID-19 crisis began, our health workforce had to meet extraordinary and overwhelming challenges. As we now rebuild and recover from the pandemic, we owe health workers a debt of action,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, co-chair of the Clinician Well-Being Collaborative. “If we fail to address burnout and ensure health workers have the support and resources they need, then the consequences will be felt by everyone who relies on the health care system.”
The National Plan identifies specific, near-term actions to achieve the following priorities, clearly naming associated goals and responsible actors:
- Create and sustain positive work and learning environments and culture
- Invest in measurement, assessment, strategies, and research
- Support mental health and reduce stigma
- Address compliance, regulatory, and policy barriers for daily work
- Engage effective technology tools
- Institutionalize well-being as a long-term value
- Recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive health workforce
“By advancing the priority areas of the National Plan, we can help ensure the health and longevity of those who care for us and train, hire, and retain a health workforce that reflects the diversity of the U.S. population,” said Darrell Kirch, President Emeritus of the Association of American Medical Colleges, and co-chair of the Clinician Well-Being Collaborative. “We must support a thriving health workforce to deliver safe, high-quality, patient-centered care.”
Access the full National Plan at nam.edu/NationalPlan.