Bassett Healthcare Network's Efforts to Combat Clinician Burnout Recognized by The American Medical Association

Cooperstown, NY - The American Medical Association (AMA) recognized Bassett Healthcare Network recently as a recipient of the 2021 Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program. The AMA awards this distinction to health systems that actively demonstrate a commitment to the wellbeing of health care team members by combating work-related stress and burnout. Caroline Gomez-DiCesare, MD, Bassett Healthcare Network's director of wellbeing, accepted the recognition on behalf of the health system. 

"The chronic crises throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a toll on everyone, with particularly high stressors on all of us in health care," says Dr. Gomez-DiCesare. "It is especially meaningful to receive this recognition of Bassett's leadership at a time when working toward wellbeing in the health care workplace is even more important than ever before."

"Our employees are the single most important asset we have at Bassett Healthcare Network," says Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, President and CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network. "We strive to empower our people with a support system that allows them to thrive and give their best to our patients. An investment in our caregivers is an investment in our patients and community."

One such investment - and an important consideration of the AMA's evaluation - has been the Clinician Peer Support Program of Central New York (CPSP-CNY). Launched in May 2020 by Bassett with four other regional health institutions and now the American Nurses Association of New York (ANA-NY), the CPSP-CNY offers emotional and empathetic support to clinicians under stress.

The program's referral system allows clinicians to confidentially reach out individually or on behalf of colleagues who might themselves be reluctant to seek help. The multi-institutional framework matches clinicians with peer supporters from outside of their home organization, allowing more anonymity when receiving support. Peer support has been proven to help decrease suicide rates in other high-stress professions, such as law enforcement and the military. 

"Burnout is stigmatized as a personal weakness, making it hard for clinicians to speak up for themselves," explains Dr. Gomez-DiCesare. "Burnout is an occupational hazard in the high-stakes, high-standards medical profession, and burnout affects the quality of patient care. Most of the factors contributing to burnout are organizational and systemic. Our goal is to minimize the risk of burnout just as we work to minimize the dangers of other occupational hazards."

The AMA has granted Bassett a bronze recognition status for two years. In its pursuit of the best possible patient care, Bassett plans to continue to expand efforts to care for caregivers. Dr. Gomez-DiCesare looks forward to Bassett's leadership being recognized at even higher levels in future assessments. 

"The 44 health systems recognized this year by the AMA are creating momentum in the health care community," says Christine Sinsky, MD, AMA vice president of professional satisfaction. "It's a united commitment to wide-spanning change in the culture of medicine that emphasizes professional wellbeing in health care."

Pictured: Dr. Caroline Gomez-DiCesare, MD, PhD, Bassett Healthcare Network's director of wellbeing, attended an AMA conference where Bassett Healthcare Network was recognized.