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3 Approaches to Boosting Physician Well-Being

Analysis  |  By Christopher Cheney  
   July 02, 2024

The top clinical officers at Allegheny Health Network, UW Health, and Houston Methodist have made physician well-being a primary focus.

With a nation-wide shortage of physicians worsening, physician well-being programs are essential for retention and recruitment.

Physician burnout remains a concern across the country, and it spiked during the coronavirus pandemic. In a 2021 survey of physicians conducted by the American Medical Association, Mayo Clinic, Stanford University School of Medicine, and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, 62.8% of physicians reported experiencing burnout symptoms, which was up from 38.2% the previous year.

Health systems and hospitals have launched a range of interventions to improve physician well-being. The efforts range from initiatives to address basic needs such as taking meal breaks to more advanced approaches including improving efficiency of practice such as support for coding and billing.

The following HealthLeaders stories show how three health systems are addressing the well-being of physicians and other staff members.

1. Allegheny Health Network wellness program is improving the well-being of clinicians and nurses: AHN's wellness program started by focusing on basic problems such as making sure staff were taking meal breaks and staying hydrated. Several well-being initiatives that the health system adopted during the coronavirus pandemic have become permanent such as a peer support program. More recent well-being initiatives at AHN include hiring a wellness officer for each institute on the medical staff and creating an advanced practice provider council.

2. UW Health is following best practices for physician well-being: The Madison, Wisc.-based health system is using Stanford Medicine's well-being survey and implementing the Stanford Medicine Model of Professional Fulfillment. UW Health's physician well-being programs focus on a culture of wellness, efficiency of practice, and personal resilience.

3. Houston Methodist's chief physician executive highlights three strategies to boost physician well-being: Shlomit Schall, MD, PhD, MHCM, executive vice president and chief physician executive at Houston Methodist, has made physician well-being a top priority for 2024.

Christopher Cheney is the CMO editor at HealthLeaders.


In recent years, physician burnout at Allegheny Health Network has trended 10 percentage points lower than the national average.

The chief clinical officer at UW Health says there are several negative impacts when physician well-being is compromised such as recruitment and retention difficulties.

The chief physician executive of Houston Methodist is leading the health system's Joy in Medicine Initiative as well as reaching out to Houston Methodist physicians to see how they define a culture of wellness.

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