Published on October 28, 2021

MidMichigan Awarded for Efforts to Reduce Stress, Workplace Burnout

MidMichigan Health was one of 44 health systems across the country to be honored by the American Medical Association (AMA) 2021 Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program. The AMA distinction recognizes health systems with a demonstrated commitment to preserving the wellbeing of health care team members by engaging in proven efforts to combat work-related stress and burnout. MidMichigan was recognized at the bronze level.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed extraordinary stress on physicians and other health care professionals,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. “While it is always important for health systems to focus on the well-being of care teams, the imperative is greater than ever as acute stress from combatting the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to higher rates of work overload, anxiety, and depression. The health systems we recognize today are true leaders in promoting an organizational response that makes a difference in the lives of the health care workforce.”

A national study examining the experiences of physicians and other health care workers who worked in health care systems during the COVID-19 pandemic found that 38 percent self-reported experiencing anxiety or depression, while 43 percent suffered from work overload and 49 percent had burnout.

“Provider burnout is very real. The constant pressure, hours and ever-changing environment associated with careers in the health care field can lead to unhealthy stress and exhaustion on providers and their loved ones,” said Kate Regan, M.D., chair of MidMichigan’s Provider Wellbeing Council. “The wellbeing of our providers is absolutely critical, so it is imperative to have a dedicated team of focused on ensuring the needs they have are addressed. We partner with other health systems to review best practices and we continue to develop countermeasures and strategies that will help our providers be the best they can be. We will do whatever it takes.”

Candidates for the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program were evaluated according to their documented efforts to reduce work-related burnout through system level drivers. Scoring criteria was based on demonstrated competencies in commitment, assessment, leadership, efficiency of practice environment, teamwork and support.

Examples of initiatives MidMichigan Health has implemented over the past four years to help decrease burnout and improve wellbeing, include:

  • Formulizing a Provider Wellbeing Council to foster a culture attentive to provider wellbeing that aligns with the Quadruple Aim (Quality, Cost, Patient Experience, and Clinical Experience) and is consistent with the MidMichigan Health values and purpose. 
  • Deploying an annual Provider Survey (Mini Z Survey) which was created by the AMA in their partnership with the Mayo Clinic. The survey gauges provider burnout at a system-level, as well as helps identify factors that could be contributing burnout.
  • Establishing a Peer Support Network to help the impacted clinician with emotional healing, to reduce burnout, and to restore providers to wellness and their patient care vocation.
  • Creating Efficiency of Practice programs designed to assist providers with creating greater efficiencies in their clinical practice. 
  • Developing and implementing a Provider Mentorship Program and Provider Leadership Institute. 
  • Holding biennial Resiliency Retreats for providers to help discover practice ideas and tips for personal growth that can lead to increased resiliency. Topics covered include improved relationships personally and professionally, improved communication, setting health boundaries, accepting imperfections, and creating happiness through discovering meaning and purpose. 

Additional support initiatives implemented for providers by MidMichigan include the addition of a:   

  • Suicide On Call Resources Line.
  • Provider wellness microsite (www.midmichigan.org/providerwellness).
  • Connecting with Colleagues Meal Sharing Program where providers are encouraged to have a meal with colleagues.
  • Monthly ‘Take 10 for Wellbeing’ initiative which educates and encourages individuals to embark on a 10-minute wellness activity.
  • Gratitude Notes Challenge where the Provider Wellbeing Council members send ongoing gratitude notes to practitioners across the health system to provide encouragement and express appreciation
  • Town Hall held monthly where the chief medical officer hosts and interviews subject matter experts on an area of focus, such as wellbeing, virtual care or infectious disease.
  • ‘Snack Round’ program across the health system. Hosted by the Provider Wellbeing Council & Peer Support Network, the intent of this initiative it to enhance collegial relationships while sharing a special treat with inpatient and outpatient providers. The treats also have a resource card included which highlights other provider wellness efforts. 

 “We understand that not all providers feel burnout, but we encourage them to take advantage of the tools available to help create a stronger work-life balance,” said Dr. Regan. “It’s important they recognize we stand behind our providers and keep them strong so we can help to achieve our Purpose Statement in ‘Creating Healthy Communities - Together.’”

Those interested in learning more about the American Medical Association (AMA) 2021 Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program may visit www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/sustainability/joy-medicine-health-system-recognition-program.