The focus on physician well-being continues to gain prominence in the health care space, particularly within the clinical learning environment as physicians and physicians in training seek to eliminate burnout and find more joy and meaning in work.
Physician well-being has been a top issue for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for as long as the organization has been serving the GME community. In 2017, the ACGME revised Section VI of its Common Program Requirements for accredited residency and fellowship programs to address more comprehensively the issue of well-being. The requirements emphasize that psychological, emotional, and physical well-being are critical in the development of the competent, caring, and resilient physician.
The new standards reinforce a culture of patient safety and physician well-being in residency training programs by strengthening the focus on patient-centered, team-based care. Changes include requiring access to appropriate tools for self-screening, and for programs to provide support to individual residents through 24/7 access to urgent and emergent care, as well as confidential mental health assessment, counseling, and treatment. Programs and the institutions that sponsor them also are encouraged to review materials in order to create systems for identification of burnout, depression, and substance abuse.
Well-being tools and resources
In February 2018, the ACGME launched a new, comprehensive Tools and Resources page for institutions, programs, residents/fellows and faculty members to support and promote well-being in the clinical learning environment.
The ACGME’s Task Force on Physician Well-Being Tools and Resources Subcommittee created this collection of materials and other references for residents and faculty members as a resource for well-being and to help identify solutions that best meet local local needs.
“We have written requirements around this important dimension of the learning environment, but we have now taken the important step of providing our program directors, residents, faculty, and institutional leaders with a range of tools and practices that can assist them in going beyond meeting minimum standards,” said ACGME President and CEO Thomas J. Nasca, MD, MACP.
“This is an opportunity to change the culture. We’ve taken a big step forward in working to create a national learning organization brought together by common goals which seeks to improve the well-being of every member of the heath care team.”
The materials range from educational videos to tool kits to screenings. They are organized by the following sections, which are highlighted in Section VI of the Common Program Requirements:
- Promoting Well-Being
- Identifying and Addressing Burnout
- Assessing and Addressing Emotional and Psychological Distress/Depression/Suicide
- Improving the Learning and Working Environment
- Coping with Tragedy
The page also includes a bibliography of selected articles on physician well-being and links to well-being programs and initiatives led by ACGME partners and other organizations dedicated to this very important issue.
Visit www.acgme.org/physicianwellbeing to view the resources.
The ACGME invites submissions from programs and institutional representatives of tools and strategies that have proven useful in graduate medical education. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Physician well-being at the ACGME and beyond
In 2016, the ACGME and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) joined forces with the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) to form the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, a network of 130 (and growing) organizations dedicated to reversing trends in clinician burnout.
The Action Collaborative is now working to:
- Improve baseline understanding of challenges to clinician well-being
- Raise the visibility of clinician stress and burnout, and
- Elevate evidence-based, multidisciplinary solutions that will improve patient care by caring for the caregiver
The ultimate goal is to spark a national dialogue regarding the well-being of caregivers in the U.S., and the impact caregiver health has on the delivery of health care services in our society.
Through the collaborative, a knowledge hub of resources also will be launched in March.