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Blog Feature

By: Richard Rosenberg, PhD on April 25th, 2018

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AAST Joins the Effort to Combat Clinician Burnout

The AAST recently joined the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience of the National Academy of Medicine. The program has three goals:

  1. Improve the understanding of challenges to clinician well-being
  2. Raise the visibility of clinician stress and burnout
  3. Elevate solutions that will improve patient care by caring for the caregiver
What is the National Academy of Medicine (NAM)? The NAM began as the Institute of Medicine in 1970. It brings together professionals from a variety of fields to address issues in health and medicine. With the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering, NAM advises the nation and the international community through workshops, symposia and initiatives to address current and emerging needs. From time to time these initiatives lead to the publication of scholarly textbooks, such as the 2006, “Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem” and “Resident Duty Hours: Enhancing Sleep, Supervision and Safety” published in 2009. These publications include a comprehensive review of the literature as well as analysis by content experts. When combined with NAM initiatives, the publications have a huge impact on public policy.

What is the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience?
The goal of the initiative is to improve patient care by improving clinician well-being. It recognizes that caregivers must be functioning at a high level in order to provide optimal care. The initiative begins with the recognition that clinicians are at elevated risk of depression, stress-related illnesses, burnout and suicide. One working group focuses on research, data and metrics to further define the nature and scope of the problem. Through workshops, symposia and publications, the collaborative seeks to raise the visibility of the problem and stimulate action at a variety of levels. Finally, a “Clinician Well-Being Knowledge Hub” has been developed to assist clinicians in recognizing factors that impact well-being, assessing their levels of impairment and implementing evidence-based strategies for improvement.

Why is clinician burnout important to sleep technologists? Like other health care providers, sleep technologists are impacted by many of the factors that are known to reduce clinician well-being. In committing to the initiative, AAST stated that “the very nature of the sleep technologist profession can more easily subject professionals to clinician burnout. With many sleep technologists working the “grave yard” shift, they are prone to feeling more physically and emotionally exhausted in comparison to their daytime-working colleagues.”  

Why is the AAST collaborating with the NAM? In joining the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience,  AAST is standing with over 150 organizations including the American College of Physicians, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the American Nurses Association, the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association and Johns Hopkins Medicine. Each organization has submitted a formal statement of commitment to work with NAM to help reduce clinician burnout. AAST leadership feels that the goals of the Collaborative are in alignment with the goals of  AAST, and that participation in this project will have a positive impact on AAST members. In the past,  AAST was advised to shun collaboration with other stakeholders, but it is clear that major issues such as this benefit from a broad consortium of participants. Moving forward, AAST wants to be part of the solution and, after careful review of the projects and contributors, will partner with members of the patient care team such as the NAM.

How does the Collaborative have an impact on AAST members? The project is well under way and you can visit the website to view videos, see informative graphics and read statements of commitment from participating organizations, including AAST. In particular, the Knowledge Hub has a wealth of information that summarizes available literature and provides suggestions for combating burnout. You can get up to date information from the project by joining the listserv. The listserv will provide you with links to publications, notification of new events and news of additional initiatives as they begin. You may also be asked to participate in surveys that will further research in clinician burnout and other crucial issues.

The message of the collaborative is that clinicians suffering from depression and burnout are not alone. The problems are not restricted to physicians and nurses. This project will help raise awareness of the problem, gather information and promote solutions, and AAST will be part of the effort.