New AMA resources help combat physician stress amidst pandemic

Aug. 31, 2020

Responding to the exceptional challenges and demands that strain physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Medical Association (AMA) introduced a new series of open access educational modules offering proven strategies to support the well-being of physicians during a time of acute stress.

“Just as we are able to flatten the COVID-19 infection curve through proactive use of masks, hand-hygiene and social distancing, it is necessary to take steps to protect against the drivers of workplace stress to reduce psychological injury involving health professionals,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, M.D. “The new AMA modules provide a pathway to rapidly reconfigure priorities around physician well-being and meet the biggest new drivers of stress in a crisis setting.”

The following modules provide practical strategies for health system leadership to consider in support of their physicians and care teams during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caring for the Health Care Workforce During Crisis

Unexpected crises, emergencies and calamities are inherently stressful and often involve uncertainty, unpredictability and increased work intensity that takes a toll on physicians and care teams. Such events require health care organizations to take proactive actions to successfully support the well-being of healthcare professionals and preserve patient care capacity. This module helps health care organizations take steps before, during, and after a crisis that will help physicians and care teams cope during a time of acute stress.

Establishing a Chief Wellness Officer Position

Vanguard healthcare organizations are relying on a new executive level position known as the Chief Wellness Officer (CWO) to implement leadership strategies for professional well-being. These executives can play a crucial role in creating the organizational groundwork for professional well-being. This module offers a step-by-step guide to help health care organizations establish and maintain a CWO position and CWO-led care team.

Chief Wellness Officer Roadmap

The CWO is called on to develop organizational strategies and guide system-wide efforts to improve professional fulfillment and well-being. This module outlines a step-by-step approach to help new CWOs navigate organizational success and improve the practice environment.

Peer support programs for physicians

Peer support in clinical medicine is crucial during times of significant stress and an essential component of this cultural change within a health care organization. This module is designed help healthcare organizations establish a peer support program to mitigate the emotional impact of stressful events on physicians and clinical teams.

Patient portal optimization

The pandemic requires the use of technology that empowers patients as partners in care while practicing physical distancing with their physician and care teams. Patient portals are one option that can benefit both patients and physicians by improving communication, accessibility and efficiency that can reduce office visits and provide a means to more coordinated and less expensive care. This module offers five steps for patient portal optimization that can improve a remote partnership between patients and their treating physicians.

The five new modules are among a collection of more than 60 others available in the AMA STEPS Forward series that cover transformative medical practice solutions in key areas such as practice efficiency, patient care, patient health, as well as technology and innovation. The STEPS Forward series is accessible through the AMA Ed Hub online leaning platform containing education from trusted sources, including JAMA Network, American College of Radiology, Obesity Medicine Association, Society of Hospital Medicine, AMA Journal of Ethics and more.

In addition to the new modules, the AMA is offering two free surveys to help health care organizations monitor the impact COVID-19 has on their workforce during this pandemic. The surveys can be used to track trends in stress levels, identify specific drivers of stress, and develop supportive infrastructures based on these drivers.

“The AMA survey can help leaders within health care organizations understand the critical sources of anxiety and stress, assure health care professionals that their concerns are recognized, and work to develop approaches that mitigate concerns to the extent that they are able,” said Dr. Bailey.

Other AMA resources can help physicians manage their own mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic and provides practical strategies for health system leadership to consider in support of their physicians and care teams during COVID-19.

AMA has the release.

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