At the 2017 Family Medicine Experience last September, the AAFP launched the Physician Health First initiative to help combat burnout and improve well-being and professional satisfaction among family physicians under the tagline "Caring for your patients starts with caring for yourself."
Two new developments -- the unveiling of a Well-being Planner for AAFP members and the incorporation of more than 100 AAFP resources into the National Academy of Medicine's Clinician Well-Being Knowledge Hub(nam.edu) -- illustrate the steps the Academy is taking to address burnout among family physicians, while also shining a light on the larger issue of burnout among health care professionals of all specialties.
The Well-being Planner is the newest addition to the Physician Health First initiative. The planner, which debuted in April, is designed to help family physicians chart a path to personal wellness and professional fulfillment.
"Family physicians experiencing burnout may feel overwhelmed," said Clif Knight, M.D., the AAFP's senior vice president for education. "The Well-being Planner is designed to make individual tactics more efficient to commit to, follow up and track."
AAFP members can access the planner through the Physician Health First Portal. After signing in, members can use several resources to design a well-being plan. Among other things, the planner helps family physicians
- choose well-being goals from a preselected list or enter their own goals,
- track and measure progress toward achieving each goal,
- create and save a personalized resource list that addresses the five major areas of the family physician ecosystem (health care system, organization, practice, individual and physician culture), and
- add or remove resources as desired.
In addition, the Well-being Planner includes a field where members can submit additional suggestions on well-being topics to the AAFP.
The Well-being Planner and Physician Health First represent the AAFP's latest efforts in the ongoing battle against professional burnout. Survey(www.medscape.com) after survey(www.mdvip.com) has shown that family physicians are among the health care professionals hardest hit by this issue. Burnout does not just affect physicians, either; research has shown that it can affect quality of care(bmjopen.bmj.com) and patient safety,(www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) as well.
"The AAFP recognizes that burnout is the problem, the hectic and dysfunctional health care system is the cause, and that it will take a multipronged effort to achieve significant improvements resulting in higher levels of professional satisfaction," Knight told AAFP News. He added that the AAFP has made decreasing administrative burden a priority so family physicians can spend more time taking care of patients.
"While the AAFP work to improve the system continues, the well-being planner is a tool to assist AAFP members in organizing helpful resources," Knight said.
The AAFP is a charter member of the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being,(nam.edu) which maintains the Clinician Well-Being Knowledge Hub. The National Academy of Medicine formed the collaborative in 2017 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.
More than 60 organizations have joined the collaborative.
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Physician Burnout (Position Paper)