Posted on 04/24/2023 - 8:17 AM by Teri Treiger, RN, MA, CCM, FABQAURP
In October 2022, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) launched its National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being. Backed by a collaborative that includes more than 200 health care leaders and co-chaired by Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, it is a detailed and timely plan that shines a spotlight on the problem of increased burnout, depression, and anxiety in the health care workforce. There has never been a greater need for an initiative to strengthen health workforce well-being and create an environment in which everyone on the team can thrive.
Even before the pandemic, there was broad recognition that physicians, nurses, case managers, disability management specialists, and others on the care team were stretched. Educational webinars provided by the Commission acknowledged the need for self-care, offering tools for case managers to manage stress and build resilience.
COVID-19 simply exacerbated an already serious problem. We worked harder, longer and in socially isolated circumstances, and alarming numbers left the workforce in “the great resignation.” As co-workers exited, those left behind struggled beneath heavy workloads as we strove to keep providing excellent care.
In surveys fielded by the Commission over the last two years, respondents consistently cited stress as a significant challenge. Nearly half (45%) of the respondents said they're overworked and that they expect long hours and large caseloads would likely continue. More than a quarter (27%) cited personal mental health issues, and more than one in ten say they struggled to adjust to the loss of a loved one related to COVID-19. Close to 15% indicated they planned to resign within a year of their response, and 20% expected worsening compensation and benefits. Large-scale burnout was, and remains, a significant risk among the case manager population.
The costs accrue beyond those who work on health care’s front lines. The NAM workforce well-being movement estimates $4.6 billion in societal costs each year in the U.S. can be attributed to burnout in the clinical workforce alone. The national plan outlines seven priority areas for workforce well-being that we can all support, as well as steps that leaders in health care organizations, government, payers, education, professional societies, and others can leverage to transform our health care system to support the workforce rather than continue this unhealthy cycle of overwork and burnout. It is critical that we do this now to protect the health and safety of our clients, who rely on us to perform at our best every day.
As a Commission, we believe our mission and values align with these priorities and significantly advance the overarching effort to cultivate a health system to better support our care providers and optimize their well-being. The first three priorities in particular are at the center of the Commission’s mission to advocate for case management excellence through certification and interrelated programs and services.
Priority 1: Create and sustain positive work and learning environments and culture. By advancing and advocating for quality case management practice and development of knowledge and skills, the Commission supports this priority to foster professional well-being and support quality care.
Priority 2: Invest in measurement, assessment, strategies, and research. Our values and certification emphasis underscore our commitment to scientific knowledge development and dissemination of this knowledge. Additionally, the Commission will continue to keep a finger on the pulse of case manager well-being through its surveys and to provide education and other tools in response to current trends.
Priority 3: Support mental health and reduce stigma. It is critical to nurture self-awareness and acknowledge one’s limits. Grief, stress, and exhaustion require respite and rest. The Commission’s “Push Pause” self-care series provides tools to cultivate balance and, after two years, has been a boost for adaptability and resilience for thousands who watch these brief videos. What’s more, assessing client health has always encompassed whole-person well-being and a definition of health that includes social, emotional, and physical characteristics.
The national plan also includes reducing regulatory burdens on health care workers and optimizing health IT so it enhances care rather than adding to administrative burden. Streamlining how we care for clients and ensuring that it remains personalized and client centered is critical. Importantly, the plan calls for making well-being in health care an institutional and long-term value, not just a product of the COVID-19 crisis. Finally, I have long been an advocate for active efforts to recruit a diverse and inclusive health workforce; this is essential to meet the needs of our changing society.
Acknowledging the pressing need to address the nation’s health care worker burnout crisis, the Commission for Case Manager Certification announced it has joined NAM’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, a growing network of organizations committed to advancing solutions to alarming rates of stress and emotional exhaustion within the health care workforce.
These are priorities that the Commission values. Our chief aim is to see case managers and disability management specialists empowered, strong and united. This is the vision that will continue to motivate us to ensure professional board-certified case managers and disability management specialists flourish in an environment that supports professional development and personal accomplishment.
[i] National Academy of Medicine. (2022, November 15). National Plan for Health Workforce well-being. National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://nam.edu/initiatives/clinician-resilience-and-well-being/national-plan-for-health-workforce-well-being/