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A New Guide to Address Health Care Burnout

March 22, 2024

The CDC this week released a guide for hospital leaders to address burnout and support health care worker wellbeing.

The guide, released Monday from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), aims to help hospital leaders “make powerful workplace improvements quickly, while taking into account the realities that many hospital systems face when it comes to finding additional time, cost, and staff to implement this work.”

“The role of health care workers in taking care of all of us is absolutely vital to our society, to our economy, and to our culture. But our health care workforce needs to feel supported, too,” John Howard, MD, director of NIOSH, said in a statement.

The CDC includes six action steps for hospitals to support wellbeing:

  • Conduct a review of your hospital’s operations to determine how they support professional wellbeing.
  • Build a dedicated team to support professional wellbeing at your hospital.
  • Remove barriers to seeking care, such as intrusive mental health questions on credentialing applications.
  • Develop a suite of communication tools that help you share updates with your workforce about your hospital’s journey to improve professional wellbeing.
  • Integrate professional wellbeing measures into an ongoing quality improvement project.
  • Create a 12-month plan to continue to move your hospital’s professional wellbeing work forward.

Next month, the CDC plans to host a webinar series with hospital leaders as they begin to implement the guide’s action steps.

“Burnout doesn’t discriminate—it exists across every hospital department and job title,” the report notes. “Even before the pandemic, the National Academy of Medicine found that burnout had reached ‘crisis levels” among U.S. healthcare workers, with between 35 percent to 45 percent of nurses and physicians and 40 percent to 60 percent of medical students reporting signs of burnout.”

The guide is available to review online.