Wellstar Health System Recognized by the American Medical Association for Promoting Well-Being of Healthcare Workers
The American Medical Association’s (AMA) Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program has recognized Wellstar Health System for its commitment to improving physician well-being and reducing burnout among healthcare clinicians. Wellstar is Georgia’s first large health system to receive this distinction.
Prior to 2020, burnout rates among U.S. physicians and other healthcare professionals were rising, but the prevalence spiked dramatically as the COVID-19 pandemic placed acute stress on care teams and exacerbated longstanding 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.
“From our President and CEO Candice L. Saunders to our physician leaders and executive team, this recognition is a meaningful testament to the commitment that our physician and other Wellstar leaders have made to our people,” said Dr. Ryan Breshears, a clinical health psychologist, Wellstar’s chief behavioral health officer, and chair of Workforce Well-being. “The road ahead is long, and by no means does this suggest that our work is finished, but it’s encouraging that the AMA has validated that we’re trending in the right direction.”
When it comes to clinician well-being, elevating the voice of the practicing clinician is paramount. In April 2022, Wellstar’s Clinician Resiliency and Well-being team developed a cross-specialty Physician Well-being Council to identify opportunities to mitigate stress drivers and support physicians and other clinicians in prioritizing their health and well-being. Employing a multi-pronged approach aligned with best practice models, Wellstar has implemented the assessment of clinician well-being annually, developed avenues to build camaraderie, and made improvements to reduce administrative burdens on the clinical workforce. July 2023 data revealed that Wellstar’s prevalence of physician distress has declined by 29% over the past two years and that overall physician well-being is 15% better than the national average during the same timeframe. Following rigorous analysis, these changes proved statistically significant on both accounts.
“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 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.”
"The goal of the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program is to unite the healthcare 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.
Since its inception in 2019, the Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program has recognized more than 100 organizations across the country. In 2023, 72 health systems nationwide earned recognition with 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.