Canadian Medical Association

A healthy and engaged physician workforce is central to delivering efficient and effective care — and a critical factor in how well health organizations function overall.

The resources on this page are intended to help leaders focus on the core elements of wellness in their teams and organizations. They include tools, guidelines and best practices for creating and fostering safe, healthy medical learning and practice environments, setting up or improving organizational wellness supports, and measuring key wellness indicators.  

Better health care through healthier workplaces

Numerous studies have shown that healthier workplaces lead to better health care. One study from the Mayo Clinic shows deliberate, sustained and comprehensive efforts by an organization’s senior leadership are key to making a difference. The study also found that, when those efforts are made, even small investments can have a big impact.

The authors of an article in PLoS One found that organizational wellness practices and systems focused on creating supportive cultures and prioritizing physician wellness contribute to all four goals of the quadruple aim: 

  • Improving the patient experience
  • Improving patient outcomes
  • Reducing costs
  • Improving health care staff’s experience of health care delivery

According to a factsheet from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, healthy and safe workplaces promote employee wellbeing, prevent stigma and discrimination, and contribute to a productive and positive working environment.

This helps:

  • Improve morale and relationships
  • Reduce medical errors
  • Boost productivity
  • Improve retention
  • Improve patient satisfaction
  • Enhance reputation
  • Reduce health care costs
  • Reduce absenteeism and turnover

Organizational strategies to promote the well-being of health care professionals

According to this article from the New England Journal of Medicine by Shanafelt et al., any efforts to improve the wellness of health care professionals should be guided by strategy and tailored to meet the unique goals and challenges of each organization.

The article outlines four fundamental components that can provide a blueprint for this strategy:

  • Foundational programs: implementing evidence-based interventions across health care organizations to promote wellness
  • Cultural transformation: evaluating and improving key aspects of organizational culture by considering well-being in all operational decisions and ensuring leaders understand that advancing wellness is one of their core responsibilities
  • Rapid iterative experimentation: employing an iterative experimental approach where programs are piloted, evaluated and scaled, after proven to be effective
  • Sustainability: incorporating sustainability into programs by recognizing the available resources for a project and understanding how to optimally deploy them

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