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University of Utah Health Honored by AMA for Promoting Well-being of Health Care Workers

Logo in blue and purple that says AMA Joy in Medicine Recognized Organization 2023
U of U Health honored by AMA’s Joy in Medicine Recognition Program for the second time, moving from Bronze to Silver

University of Utah Health has earned recognition from the American Medical Association (AMA) as a Joy in Medicine (JIM)™ 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.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the AMA’s Joy in Medicine Award for the second time, moving from Bronze to Silver,” said Amy B. Locke, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., Chief Wellness Officer, University of Utah Health. “It reflects the outstanding work of many teams working collaboratively to receive this recognition.”

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 exacerbated 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 Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H., AMA President. “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, M.D., AMA Vice President of Professional Satisfaction.

The exceptional employee experience strategy at University of Utah Health, led by the Well-Being Steering Committee, is an example of teams coming together across the organization to coordinate the work recommended by the JIM program. Because no one group can manage all the wellness needs of the organization and requirements of the JIM program, there is a need for deep collaboration and coordination.

The “Better U” survey is one example of this coordinated teamwork. By bringing together eight groups that routinely survey and assist populations to conduct a single organization-wide survey, U of U Health can look at multiple dimensions of intact teams. By synergizing the response, they can help assist teams in looking for local opportunities for improvement and pass system-wide issues along to those with the capacity to address them. When done in coordination with efforts that address the culture of medicine and recognition of stress and trauma in the workplace, we can move the needle on well-being in health care.

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.