New Advisory Addressing Health Worker Burnout Released by U.S. Surgeon General

A Surgeon General Advisory issued on May 23 calls attention to the health worker burnout crisis raging across the country and proposes steps key stakeholders can take in order to alleviate the stressors contributing to burnout.

Health worker burnout can have negative impacts on health workers, the patients they care for and the overall health system. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 35-54% of nurses and physicians and 45-60% of medical students voiced symptoms of burnout, according to the National Academy of Medicine.

COVID-19 has been a uniquely traumatic experience for the health workforce and for their families, pushing them past their breaking point,” said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. “Now, we owe them a debt of gratitude and action. And if we fail to act, we will place our nation’s health at risk.”

Key recommendations made by the Surgeon General include ensuring the safety and well-being of all health workers, removing punitive policies for workers seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment, emphasizing the value of social connection and community in the workplace, reducing the burden of tedious administrative tasks and more.

The advisory also notes that the health and well-being of certain groups of health workers has been disproportionately felt both before and during this pandemic, mentioning the unique challenges of health workers of color, female health workers, health workers in rural and tribal communities among others. Access ACC’s Clinician Well-Being Portal for more information and resources related to this topic.

Clinical Topics: Prevention, Stress

Keywords: Health Personnel, Burnout, Professional, SARS-CoV-2, Surgeons, Policy, Substance-Related Disorders, Students, Medical, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, U.S., Health and Medicine Division, Health Workforce, Mental Health, Workplace, Pandemics, COVID-19, ACC Advocacy


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