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ASHP, Well-Being, and You

Jul 11, 2019

Dear colleagues,

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

There is a great deal of national attention on the issue of healthcare provider burnout, which is affecting our pharmacists, pharmacy residents, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians at unprecedented rates.

As many of you know, burnout is a syndrome characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and low personal accomplishment. Moreover, there is a significant correlation between poor well-being of healthcare professionals and worsening patient safety. In May 2019, the World Health Organization clarified that burnout is an occupational phenomenon caused by chronic workplace stress that needs to be monitored and better understood. It’s also an expensive problem. Research conducted at the Mayo Clinic estimates that burnout costs the U.S. healthcare system $4.6 billion every year.

A healthy and thriving clinician workforce is essential to ensure optimal patient health outcomes and safety. That’s why ASHP has been a leader in well-being and resilience (WBR) for nearly 40 years. We first addressed this as a critical practice issue in a 1982 AJHP article that explores recognizing, reversing, and preventing hospital pharmacist burnout.

In 2017, ASHP became the pharmacy sponsoring organization of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience. This four-year initiative is raising the visibility of clinician burnout, improving baseline understanding of challenges to clinician well-being, and advancing evidence-based solutions to improve patient care by caring for the caregiver. ASHP is a member of the NAM Action Collaborative Conceptual Model Working Group which is charged with identifying factors that affect clinician well-being and resilience. The goal is to create urgency and understanding of the issue while being careful not to oversimplify the complexity of it. In addition, we recently participated in a NAM meeting in Chicago, focused on redesigning the clinical learning environment to enhance well-being. ASHP member Kofi Andoh, a rising third-year student at Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy in Baltimore, was one of five participants selected to share his perspective on the stressful demands placed on students.

To further assess the issue of workplace burnout, ASHP recently conducted a national survey of nearly 2,000 people with help from The Harris Poll. The results show that almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents are concerned about burnout among healthcare professionals. Furthermore, one in four Americans surveyed believes hospital pharmacists (26%) and retail pharmacists (25%) are experiencing burnout. These data show that pharmacy workforce stress is visible to our patients, which is why ASHP has made addressing pharmacy workforce well-being a top priority.

In June 2018, the ASHP House of Delegates approved a new professional policy on clinician well-being and resilience. At our Summer Meetings last month, the House of Delegates reinforced our commitment to WBR by approving a new policy on suicide awareness and prevention, the most tragic and extreme consequence of burnout. The policy recognizes the vital role of the pharmacy workforce in suicide prevention, and the importance of maintaining the health and well-being of both our patients and our colleagues.

June was National Employee Well-Being Month, and in honor of Global Wellness Day on June 8, we launched an online portal – Wellbeing & You – as a resource for pharmacists, pharmacy residents, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians. This website is also a place for colleagues to share their experiences with burnout and to pledge their commitment to strengthening personal and workplace resilience. I encourage you to visit the site to learn about burnout, view ASHP’s webinars on WBR, check out the ASHP State Affiliate Toolkit, and contribute to the ASHP Connect Community on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience.

Join ASHP’s movement to combat burnout by sharing your stories and taking the pledge. Keep your eye out for #WellbeingWednesday on social media, where we’ll offer even more WBR tips, member stories, and resources.

Please know that ASHP is here to support you in your career in every way we can and that we will continue to provide you with valuable WBR resources. Thank you for being a member of ASHP, and for everything you do for your patients.

Sincerely,
Paul

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