Burnout concept

As part of the first federal campaign to address healthcare worker burnout, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released an evidence-informed and actionable guide for the nation’s hospital leaders to improve healthcare worker wellbeing — Impact Wellbeing Guide: Taking Action to Improve Healthcare Worker Wellbeing.

This Guide is the newest addition to the Impact Wellbeing Campaign, launched in October 2023, and provides a step-by-step process for hospitals to start making organizational-level changes that will impact and improve the mental health of their employees.

“The role of healthcare workers in taking care of all of us is absolutely vital to our society, to our economy, and to our culture. But our healthcare workforce needs to feel supported, too,” says John Howard, MD, Director of NIOSH. “The Guide includes six action steps to implement and accelerate professional wellbeing, which enables leaders to make systems-level changes and builds trust between leaders and healthcare workers.”

As highlighted in a recent CDC Vital Signs, health workers face a mental health crisis. The realities of our healthcare system are driving many health workers to burn out. They are at an increased risk for mental health challenges and choosing to leave the health workforce early. 

The Guide outlines six key steps for hospital leaders to take, which were pilot-tested and refined with a working group comprised of six U.S. hospitals:

1. Conduct a review of your hospital’s operations to determine how they support professional wellbeing.

2. Build a dedicated team to support professional wellbeing at your hospital.

3. Remove barriers to seeking care, such as intrusive mental health questions on credentialing applications.

4. Develop a suite of communication tools that help you share updates with your workforce about your hospital’s journey to improve professional wellbeing.

5. Integrate professional wellbeing measures into an ongoing quality improvement project.

6. Create a 12-month plan to continue to move your hospital’s professional wellbeing work forward.

CDC/NIOSH will host a webinar series, beginning in late April 2024, for hospital leaders to learn how to use each section of the Guide. The goal is for participating hospitals to start implementing the Guide immediately after the webinar series. CommonSpirit Health, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the U.S., supported NIOSH in pilot-testing the Impact Wellbeing Guide in six hospitals from July through December 2023.

The Impact Wellbeing Guide and other resources can be found here.