Allegheny Health Network (AHN) has been honored by the American Medical Association (AMA) as a Joy in Medicine™-recognized organization for 2023.
The prestigious AMA distinction is granted only to organizations that meet the rigorous criteria of the Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program, and demonstrate a commitment to preserving the well-being of clinicians through proven efforts to combat work-related stress and burnout.
In 2023, a total of 72 hospitals and health care organizations nationwide earned recognition through documented efforts to reduce system-level drivers of burnout and demonstrated competencies in commitment, assessment, leadership, efficiency of practice environment, teamwork, and support.
Those winners were recognized in gold, silver and bronze categories – AHN was one of 26 organizations to receive a silver-level recognition.
“At AHN, we recognize that our community’s health depends on the well-being of our health care workforce, which is why we’re working so hard to mitigate work-related clinician burnout and promote clinical wellness at all professional levels, and at all sites of care,” said Thomas Campbell, MD, AHN vice president and medical director of Clinician Wellness. “While we know that this is an ongoing improvement journey, we’re thrilled to be recognized by the AMA for our achievements in 2023.”
Burnout rates among the nation’s physicians and other health care professionals spiked dramatically as the COVID-19 pandemic placed acute stress on care teams and exacerbated long-standing system issues. While the worst days of the pandemic have passed, the lingering impact of work-related burnout remains an obstacle to achieving national health goals.
“Health organizations that have earned recognition from the AMA’s Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program are leading a national movement that has declared the well-being of health professionals to be an essential element for providing high-quality care to patients, families, and communities,” said AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH. “Each ‘Joy in Medicine’-recognized organization is distinguished as among the nation’s best at creating a culture of wellness that makes a difference in the lives of clinical care teams.”
At AHN, the wellness team measures burnout symptoms through extensive annual surveys. For every category of clinician surveyed – physician, advanced practice provider, nurse, nurse manager, and resident – AHN’s burnout rates are well below the national rates for 2023. Additionally, from 2022 to 2023, self-reported burnout rates dropped for AHN physicians, APPs, nurse managers, and nurses.
Notably, nursing burnout rates at AHN have dropped by 35 percent since 2021. In that time, AHN has implemented a number of wellness strategies, and has worked with counterparts at Highmark Health to reimagine the nursing profession, allowing for more flexible work shifts and creating remote nursing teams.
One of the unique features of AHN’s wellness survey is that it includes team members from across the network — not just clinicians, techs and patient-facing caregivers, but also non-patient-facing team members, such as those in billing or information services. AHN also surveys support staff, such as environmental services workers, nutrition workers and cafeteria staff, security, and transport workers.
“The factors behind a physician’s burnout are going to be much different than someone working in nutrition,” said Donald Whiting, MD, chief medical officer for AHN. “Surveying everyone allows us to create a much more accurate portrait of wellness across our entire organization.”
The survey also illustrates that there’s no magic pill for relieving burnout across the medical professions — physicians in the ICU might feel burnout more acutely, and for different reasons, than those working in radiology or an outpatient setting. Nurses working the overnight shift might worry about emergency room safety, while those working during the day might be so busy that they don’t have time to take water breaks.
“Listening to all those different concerns, and following through on the issues raised, makes a huge difference for our caregivers — and ultimately for our patients,” said Michele Tucci, senior vice president, Executive Strategic Programs for AHN.
Since its inception in 2019, the Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program has recognized just over 100 organizations across the country.
“The goal of the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program is to unite the health care community in building a nationwide culture committed to the well-being of clinical care teams by helping health organizations invest in action plans promoting professional fulfillment and meaning that clinicians find in caring for their patients,” said Christine Sinsky, MD, AMA vice president of professional satisfaction.
Learn more about the AMA Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program at ama-assn.org/joyinmedicine. The AMA is a professional association for physicians and medical students that promotes the art and science of medicine and advocates for the betterment of public health.
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