In 2016, the IMS Board of Directors approved the formation of an ad hoc task force to determine how IMS might best support physicians at risk of or currently experiencing professional burnout. Their recommendations, contained in the Steenblock Report, kicked off five years of statewide work to provide individual and organizational burnout and professional wellness resources to physicians and clinicians across our state. The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the strain on the healthcare community and is now leading to a concerning explosion of professional burnout. IMS is here to help.
Physician Wellness Resource Page
Following the adoption of the Steenblock Report in the summer of 2017, IMS launched the first of several resource pages, which have evolved over the years to meet the changing needs of the physician community. The current resource page includes an anonymous self-assessment tool to allow individuals to gauge their level of burnout in a secure and private manner. Since early in the pandemic, IMS has operated a second COVID-19 Wellness Page, which included a number of pandemic-specific tools to help support individuals and practices. Many of these resources have been migrated to the newly relaunched Physician Wellness Resource Page so all of our burnout and wellness resources are now available on a single site.
In 2018, IMS hosted the first-ever statewide, multidisciplinary conference on professional burnout. Co-hosted by eleven provider and clinic administration organizations, this conference represented an acknowledgement that burnout impacts all members of the care team and successfully addressing the problem will require buy-in from administrative leadership. The program included sessions on recognizing burnout, critically evaluating clinical systems to improve the culture leading to burnout, and learning new techniques to respond to professional stress. In 2019, IMS partnered with the Iowa Pharmacy Association to bring these valuable resources to more Iowa communities, hosting a series of 13 local wellness programs that connected area clinicians with subject matter experts on burnout and professional wellness.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a reimagining of our physician wellness programs, with IMS shifting to offering several virtual programs. Recently, IMS was able to resume its in-person programming in a local, small-group format. Working with leadership at a clinic in Northeast Iowa, IMS helped facilitate two evenings of extensive, peer-guided reflection and discussion. These allowed first their physicians and then their advanced practice providers to discuss their individual and collective experiences throughout the pandemic, opportunities for clinic-wide improvement, and new techniques to maintain professional wellness in the face of these ongoing challenges.
The ongoing strain COVID-19 has placed on Iowa physicians has renewed the Iowa Medical Society’s commitment to physician wellness. The IMS Programming Committee and staff are in the process of critically evaluating the resources, programming, and support we offer, with an eye toward identifying additional unmet needs. In 2022, IMS also hopes to build upon the success of our recent local self-evaluation events in Northeast Iowa by making similar opportunities available to more practices across our state. If you have ideas for how IMS can help support you or your clinic, we want to hear from you. Please contact Autumn McGill with IMS for more information on our physician wellness efforts or to share your ideas.