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Blue Ridge Group Report: Health leaders have moral imperative to address clinician burnout

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Holly Korschun

A new report by the Blue Ridge Academic Health Group (BRAHG) examines and recommends responses to the growing epidemic of clinician burnout, which affects not just doctors but also nurses and other health professionals. This phenomenon is becoming a crisis in health care delivery, with staggering costs in lost productivity, risks to mental and physical health, eroding quality and safety, diminished patient satisfaction, staff turnover, lost dollars, and at the extreme, a high personal toll of depression and suicide.

The report argues that academic health centers (AHCs) have a special responsibility to confront this problem head-on: "We declare that the time is ripe for AHC leaders to claim a central role in acknowledging, owning, researching, understanding, and defeating the epidemic of clinician burnout. What's at stake is nothing less than the ‘joy in work’ that the most productive and empathetic clinicians bring to the workplace; the sense of professionalism that every doctor, nurse, and other health professional has a right to expect from their career; and the satisfaction, quality, and safety that is expected by patients. At stake also are high costs to society—estimated to be as much as $150 billion each year in the United States for physician burnout alone.”

The 2017-2018 report, titled "The Hidden Epidemic: The Moral Imperative for Academic Health Centers to Address Health Professionals' Well-Being," was prepared by some of the most influential leaders in academic medicine.

The Blue Ridge Group studies and reports on issues of fundamental importance to improving the U.S. health care system and enhancing the ability of academic health centers to sustain optimal progress in health and health care through sound research and health professional education.

Blue Ridge Group co-chairs are Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, executive vice president for health affairs, Emory University; executive director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center; and president, CEO, and chairman of the Board, Emory Healthcare; and Jeffrey R. Balser, MD, president and CEO, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and dean, Vanderbilt School of Medicine.

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