American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Commitment Statement for NAM Action Collaborative on Clinician Resilience and Well-being
Physician burnout has been called a public health crisis due to its impact on physician health and well-being, quality of care, and the sustainability of the profession. Nationally, 54% of physicians report that they are burned out, with rates rising over the past decade. Almost as many nurses complain of burnout. Many other clinicians are depressed and even suicidal. Besides the direct health care costs incurred by depressed and emotionally exhausted physicians, there are even more significant indirect costs. Burnout ends careers prematurely or more insidiously leads to disengagement, lowered productivity and lower patient satisfaction. Evidence points strongly to the impact of clinicians’ health and well-being on their ability to provide safe, compassionate, and effective care.
ACOEM represents more than 4,200 physicians and other health care professionals who specialize in occupational and environmental medicine (OEM). ACOEM is the nation’s largest medical society dedicated to promoting the health of workers through preventive medicine, clinical care, disability management, research, and education.
As an organization dedicated to the health and safety of workers, ACOEM is deeply committed to providing resources, education, research and leadership in advancing clinician resilience and well-being. For many years, the College has supported a section of its members focused on medical center occupational health. This group represents physicians throughout the United States who are employed by health systems to provide medical direction of employee health services and programs. The section has published and regularly updated guidelines about protecting and promoting the health of health care workers (Guidance for Occupational Health Services in Medical Centers).
Part of ACOEM’s work includes exploring and sharing the information about drivers and solutions to burnout in countries across the globe through the International Occupational Medicine Society Collaborative, which ACOEM launched in partnership with United Kingdom’s Society of Occupational Medicine. Since OEM specialists are least likely among all specialties to report burnout, other work involves identifying and sharing those aspects of our specialty that mitigate factors driving burnout among our practitioners.
As physicians responsible for the health, safety and well-being of clinicians (and other workers) in health systems, occupational medicine specialists not only provide health care to clinicians but are also well-positioned to take leadership roles in multidisciplinary strategies to identify, prevent and manage the emotional distress of physicians and nurses.