October 11, 2023

Washington Permanente Medical Group honored by AMA

The multispecialty group practice is honored by the American Medical Association for its commitment to preserving health care worker well-being.

Contact: Linnae Riesen

RENTON, Wash. — Washington Permanente Medical Group has earned recognition from the American Medical Association as a Joy in Medicine™ recognized organization. The prestigious AMA distinction is granted only to organizations that attest to the rigorous criteria of the Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program and demonstrate a commitment to preserving the well-being of clinical care team members through proven efforts to combat work-related stress and burnout.

“We’re honored to be recognized by the AMA for our work to prioritize professional fulfillment and clinician well-being,” said Mary Wierusz, MD, medical director of clinical wellness for the Washington Permanente Medical Group. “While this recognition tells us we're heading in the right direction with our evidence-based strategy and tactics, we know we must continue to focus on the organizational and systemic drivers of moral injury.”

The Washington Permanente Medical Group began using the AMA Mini-Z burnout assessment in 2021, which comprises 10 items and one open-ended question to assess satisfaction, stress, burnout, work control, chaos, values alignment, teamwork, documentation, time pressure, excess electronic health record (EHR) use at home, and EHR proficiency. Washington Permanente Medical Group found that thanks to its ongoing work to address physician concerns, the burnout rate fell nearly 6 percentage points from 2021 to 2022.  

“Though these results were promising, we know that meaningful systemic change that our clinicians and patients feel takes time,” Dr. Wierusz said. “While we continue to advocate for best practices to address the systemic drivers of well-being, we also are implementing programs that address community, teamwork, and culture of wellness. These include providing funds for clinicians to gather with colleagues and to participate in rounding programs, peer support, team-building retreats, and coaching programs. Ultimately, enhancing clinician well-being enables us all to take high-quality, excellent care of our patients.”

Burnout rates among the nation’s physicians and other health care professionals spiked dramatically as the COVID-19 pandemic placed acute stress on care teams and worsened long-standing system issues. While the worst days of the pandemic have passed, the lingering impact of work-related burnout remains an obstacle to achieving national health goals.

“Health organizations that have earned recognition from the AMA’s Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program are leading a national movement that has declared the well-being of health professionals to be an essential element for providing high-quality care to patients, families, and communities,” said AMA president Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH “Each Joy in Medicine recognized organization is distinguished as among the nation’s best at creating a culture of wellness that makes a difference in the lives of clinical care teams.”

"The goal of the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program is to unite the health care community in building a nationwide culture committed to the well-being of clinical care teams by helping health organizations invest in action plans promoting professional fulfillment and meaning that clinicians find in caring for their patients,” said Christine Sinsky, MD, AMA vice president of professional satisfaction.

“We’re honored to receive this recognition from the AMA, and the Washington Permanente Medical Group will continue to focus on clinician satisfaction to ensure that we remain a leading medical group in this realm,” said Linda Tolbert, MD, JD, EdD, MPH, executive medical director of the Washington Permanente Medical Group. “Like so many others, we continue to see unique challenges and stressors across our health care system, and it remains critical to empower our clinician leaders to take local action and enact systemic change.”

Since its inception in 2019, the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program has recognized more than 100 organizations across the country. In 2023, a total of 72 health systems nationwide earned recognition with documented efforts to reduce system-level drivers of work-related burnout and demonstrated competencies in commitment, assessment, leadership, efficiency of practice environment, teamwork, and support.

Learn more about the AMA Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program at ama-assn.org/joyinmedicine.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.6 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.