Late last week, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) formally announced that the organization would be allocating $103 million dollars from the American Rescue Plan “to Strengthen Resiliency and Address Burnout in the Health Workforce.”
The HHS press release provides insight into the motive behind this initiative: “Health care providers face many challenges and stresses due to high patient volumes, long work hours and workplace demands. These challenges were amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, and have had a disproportionate impact on communities of color and in rural communities. The programs announced today will support the implementation of evidence-informed strategies to help organizations and providers respond to stressful situations, endure hardships, avoid burnout and foster healthy workplace environments that promote mental health and resiliency.”
The initiative is currently accepting applications for 3 different funding opportunities:
- Promoting Resilience and Mental Health Among Health Professional Workforce: funding for “establishing, enhancing, or expanding evidence-informed programs or protocols to adopt, promote and implement an organizational culture of wellness that includes resilience and mental health among their employees.”
- Health and Public Safety Workforce Resiliency Training Program: awards “for educational institutions and other appropriate state, local, Tribal, public or private nonprofit entities training those early in their health careers. This includes providing evidence-informed planning, development and training in health profession activities in order to reduce burnout, suicide and promote resiliency among the workforce.”
- Health and Public Safety Workforce Resiliency Technical Assistance Center: “One award will be made for approximately $6 million over three years to provide tailored training and technical assistance to HRSA’s workforce resiliency programs.”
This initiative is well-timed, as physician and healthcare worker burnout has never been higher. Rising patient volumes, an overall increase in physician workload, and a gaping physician shortage are just a few of the challenges that the healthcare system is currently facing. There are also growing fears that the physician shortage will not be resolved anytime soon, especially given the rising costs of medical education and disparities in work and compensation across geographies.
Indeed, while conversations and discussions around this topic are critical, physicians and healthcare workers need tangible solutions to help quell this growing crisis. Only time will tell what kind of viable strategies this new initiative spearheaded by HHS will provide. However, one thing is certain: solving the burnout crisis in healthcare must remain a critical priority. Only then can a sustainable and effective healthcare system truly be maintained for generations to come.