TMA to Feds: Improve Care Environment to Reduce Burnout
By Joey Berlin

Federal authorities are looking for input on how to prevent stress and burnout among health care workers. The Texas Medical Association is answering the call – supporting a robust attack on the root causes of that stress while letting health authorities know Texas physicians “are exhausted and are suffering from moral injury.”

In a letter to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), TMA responded to a previous “request for information” from the agency regarding “current evidence-based, workplace and occupational safety and health interventions to prevent work-associated stress, support stress reduction, and foster positive mental health and well-being among the nation’s health workers.” NIOSH exists within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“While workplace stress and burnout display themselves in individual physicians, the root causes stem from the problems inherent in the health care system, public and private payer issues, and excessive and ever-growing administrative burdens,” TMA President E. Linda Villarreal, MD, wrote in TMA’s Jan. 24 letter to NIOSH.

The two-page TMA letter echoed and fully supported recommendations to NIOSH by the American Medical Association, which said physician burnout originates in systems and is exacerbated by work-related stress. AMA recommended the federal agencies “focus on interventions that improve the care environment, rather than on interventions aimed at strengthening the individual to withstand the dysfunctional care environment.”

TMA’s letter also turned federal authorities’ attention to a prepandemic report from the National Academy of Medicine, Taking Actions Against Clinician Burnout. The report recommended creating positive environments for both work and education/training, reducing administrative burden, and providing support and services to clinicians while also reducing the stigma attached to seeking that support.

“TMA policy strongly supports working with medical organizations and professional societies to pursue the reduction or elimination of the burden of federally required documentation, and we urge NIOSH and CDC to support these goals as well. We urge you to take immediate steps to help physicians across the country, especially as we enter year three of the COVID-19 pandemic,” TMA told the agencies.

Last Updated On

April 05, 2022

Originally Published On

January 26, 2022

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Joey Berlin

Managing Editor

(512) 370-1393

Joey Berlin is managing editor of Texas Medicine. His previous work includes stints as a reporter and editor for various newspapers and publishing companies, and he’s covered everything from hard news to sports to workers’ compensation. Joey grew up in the Kansas City area. He lives in Austin.

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