AMA honors Sanford Health for promoting clinician well-being

Health system earns recognition for preventing work-related stress and burnout

AMA honors Sanford Health for promoting clinician well-being

Sanford Health has earned gold recognition from the American Medical Association as a Joy in Medicine recognized organization.

The prestigious AMA distinction is granted only to organizations that attest to the rigorous criteria of the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program and demonstrate a commitment to preserving the well-being of clinical care team members through proven efforts to combat work-related stress and burnout.

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“At Sanford Health, it is our philosophy to be purposeful with our intent of making sure our clinicians enjoy their practice,” said Heather Spies, M.D., physician director of clinician experience and well-being. “We know that when we invest in our clinicians, we’re ensuring all of our patients receive the best care possible. This recognition is a testament to our dedication to the well-being of our caregivers.”

Burnout rates among the nation’s physicians and other health care professionals spiked dramatically as the COVID-19 pandemic placed acute stress on care teams and exacerbated long-standing system issues. While the worst days of the pandemic have passed, the lingering impact of work-related burnout remains an obstacle to achieving national health goals.

At the recent American Conference on Physician Health, Aaste Campbell, director of clinician experience at Sanford Health, found opportunities to collaborate with others who share the same passion for clinician well-being.

“I’ve been doing this work long before it was something anyone talked about,” Campbell said. “Clinician well-being is so important that it has become a fulfilling calling for me.”

Building a workplace culture of well-being

Sanford Health has built a culture of well-being through:

  • An enterprise clinician well-being council
  • Peer support groups
  • A mentorship program
  • A clinician assistance program that includes confidential counseling
  • A professional practice support program with peer coaching
  • The RISES clinician leadership development program rooted in encouraging self-care, wellness, building relationships and promoting healthy work-family-life integration

“Focusing on the well-being of our clinicians is the single greatest asset to Sanford Health,” said Daniel Hoody, M.D., vice president, medical officer and clinic, Sanford Bemidji in Minnesota. “The various programs have played a critical role in ensuring our clinicians are at their best, which in turn has positively impacted patient care.”

Other leaders at Sanford Health have noticed a difference, too.

“Since initiating our clinician well-being programs, we’ve seen a culture shift where our clinicians are more willing to reach out for assistance,” said Joshua Crabtree, M.D., vice president, clinic, Sanford Sioux Falls in South Dakota. “Clinician well-being has become integrated into our daily routine at Sanford and has helped bring back the joy in medicine to our practice.”

Benefits of caring for caregivers

Doug Griffin, M.D., vice president, clinic, Sanford Fargo in North Dakota, said he has personally witnessed clinicians openly discuss their well-being and burnout. That has resulted in more support among peers.

“As practicing medicine continues to become more complex, it’s crucial for our clinicians to be healthy and resilient to meet these challenging times,” Dr. Griffin said. “Our clinician well-being programs have been designed to set our clinicians up for success long-term.”

Better work-life balance is one positive result of Sanford Health’s clinician well-being efforts, said Mubashir Badar, M.D., vice president, clinic, Sanford Bismarck.

“They are better at recognizing burnout, which has led to advocating for better work-life balance and being more upfront about setting boundaries,” Dr. Badar said. “Sanford’s programs have created a culture that accepts that it is OK to not be OK, and there’s no shame in seeking help.”

Since its inception in 2019, the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program has recognized more than 100 organizations across the country.

In 2023, a total of 72 health systems nationwide earned recognition with documented efforts to reduce system-level drivers of work-related burnout and demonstrated competencies in commitment, assessment, leadership, efficiency of practice environment, teamwork, and support.

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Posted In Awards & Recognition, Bemidji, Bismarck, Company News, Fargo, News, People & Culture, Physicians and APPs, Sioux Falls, Workplace Health