Canadian Medical Association

How healthy is your culture?

Assessing wellness in your organization

The success of any health care organization is affected by a variety of external pressures, such as funding and policy changes. However, the wellness of individuals within the institution is just as important. Teams who are engaged, resilient and healthy deliver more efficient and effective care. This means organizations should do everything they can to reduce physician burnout, depression and suicidal ideation.

Cultivating physician wellness is a critical factor in improving how an organization functions as a whole. 

Burnout Impact Visual

Key wellness indicators

Factors that can be used as indicators of an organization’s wellness include:

  • Education and training opportunities 
  • Incentive and reward programs
  • Professional fulfillment 
  • Career satisfaction
  • Collegiality
  • Work-life integration
  • Control and flexibility
  • Absenteeism
  • Efficiency and resource use
  • Productivity
  • Employee assistance program usage
  • Turnover rates
  • Patient outcomes and experience

Predictors are the factors that affect wellness. Outcomes are the factors that are affected by wellness.

Education Wellness visual

How to assess your current state of wellness

Before you can address physician wellness, you first need to assess its current state within your organization. That includes looking at a number of psychological, behavioural and organizational factors:

  • Develop and distribute a physician wellness survey that uses valid and reliable scales. Consider aligning your measures with those used in national surveys (such as the 2017 CMA National Physician Health Survey) to allow for easier comparisons. See the appendix in the CMA survey for a description of the scales it used.
  • Include measures of:
    • Physician wellness (e.g., mental health, resilience, burnout, depression, suicidal ideation)
    • Behavioural and organizational predictors (e.g., physical activity, work hours, fatigue).
    • Quality of care and the health system (e.g., turnover rates, benefits usage, absenteeism, patient incidents, patient satisfaction) 
  • Assess these measures at regular intervals to track changes over time.

Assess your organization’s wellness offerings

In addition to assessing the wellness of your team, you also need to assess the effectiveness of wellness offerings within your organization. Through a combination of surveys and focus groups, identify your key successes, challenges and gaps. Here are some recommended questions to explore during these sessions:


  • What initiatives are you currently offering to support physician wellness?
  • What metrics are you using to assess the impact of these initiatives? 
  • Which wellness initiative received the most positive feedback in the last year?
  • What wellness goals have you set? Did you accomplish them in the last year?

Gaps and lessons learned:

  • What are the main barriers to physician wellness within your organization?
  • How might you address those barriers?
  • What wellness initiatives that are not currently available might help address those barriers?
  • Which wellness goals have you not met in the last year?
  • What could you do differently over the next 12 months to promote physician wellness?

Results from the latest 2021 National Physician Health Survey and more recent physician health and wellness data are available here.


Organizational wellness Burnout Depression Suicide

Are you in distress? Get help now.

Back to top