UPMC Honored by AMA for Promoting Well-Being of Health Care Workers

Updated on October 8, 2023

UPMC has earned recognition from the American Medical Association (AMA) for efforts to promote the well-being of its clinical care teams. The prestigious AMA distinction — given to only 72 health systems nationwide this year — is granted to organizations that meet the rigorous criteria of the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program and demonstrate proven efforts to combat work-related stress and burnout.

“Ensuring that our physicians are at their best is foundational for UPMC,” said Don Yealy, M.D., chief medical officer and chair of emergency medicine at UPMC, and professor of medicine and clinical and translational sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Yealy serves on a leadership committee, UPMC Physician THRIVE, that’s committed to improving physician well-being and professional fulfillment, and addressing factors that contribute to burnout. “We are deploying solutions that target well-being opportunities both at work and outside of work, and surveying our progress,” Yealy said.

Nationwide, burnout rates among 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 past, 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, M.D., M.P.H. “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.”

To help facilitate easier access to mental health care for physicians, trainees and their families, Jennifer Berliner, M.D., M.B.A, director of physician well-being, co-chair of Physician THRIVE and assistant professor at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, brought together leaders from THRIVE and the Physician Assistance Program at UPMC, as well as from the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Psychiatry. This diverse group of leaders collaborated to create CuRBside, a personalized mental health referral service.

“CuRBside provides connections to help for anxiety, depression, substance use, and marriage or relationship difficulties, as well as issues unique to health care workers: compassion fatigue, burnout and coping with adverse events,” Berliner said. “This service is completely confidential and completely free.”

Since its inception in 2019, the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program has honored more than 100 organizations across the country. Recognition is based on documented efforts to reduce system-level drivers of work-related burnout and demonstrated competencies in commitment, assessment, leadership, efficiency of practice environment, teamwork and support.

Learn more about the AMA Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program at ama-assn.org/joyinmedicine

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