“Caring for the Healers” Symposium to Explore Strategies that Combat Burnout Among Health Care Workforces

To optimize patients’ health care, the industry must also prioritize the well-being of its providers and researchers. Yet, many American Thoracic Society members experience stressors that can gradually erode mental, emotional, and physical well-being, potentially leading to high rates of burnout, depression, substance abuse, or even suicide.

Meshell Johnson, MD,
Meshell Johnson, MD, ATSF

On Tuesday, May 21, the ATS International Conference will host the scientific symposium “Caring for the Healers.” This session will discuss the determinants of health care workforce well-being, identify groups at an increased risk for mental health issues, and share strategic interventions to support health care workers struggling with burnout. The session is scheduled from 9:15 – 10:45 a.m. PT in the San Diego Convention Center Room 7 A-B (Upper Level).

“One of the things we really wanted to highlight was the fact that health care providers span a spectrum of people and professions, so we made a conscious effort to ensure that there is something valuable in this session for everyone,” explained Meshell Johnson, MD, ATSF, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-chair for this session at ATS 2024 San Diego.

Caroline Okorie, MD, MPH, clinical associate professor at Stanford University, will kick off the session with an overview of providers’ well-being and the potential consequences when their mental health suffers due to less-than-ideal working conditions.

Next, Michelle Eakin, PhD, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and Jin Jun, PhD, RN, assistant professor of clinical nursing at Ohio State University, will explore the considerations for the well-being of specific health care groups – PhDs and nurses, respectively.

Indira Gurubhagavatula, MD, MPH, professor of medicine will provide an expert’s perspective on the importance of sleep to a clinician’s overall well-being. Dr. Gurubhagavatula is a sleep physician who works at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Another vital consideration for this discussion is the role of diversity and inclusion when considering the comprehensive view of providers’ overall health. Ni-Cheng Liang, MD, ATSF, director of pulmonary integrative medicine at Coastal Pulmonary Associates Scripps Health Network, will lead this portion of the session.

“Increasing workforce diversity is incredibly important, but inclusion goes hand in hand with the principles of diversity,” Dr. Johnson said. “People have to feel like they belong, and as we create more diverse teams, we need to be inclusive and to make sure that everyone feels heard and supported.”

Finally, Marc Moss, MD, ATSF, Roger S. Mitchell Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz, and a former ATS President, will review institutional health system solutions to improve provider well-being.

“Burnout is a systemic issue, and it can’t be left to providers to figure out individualized solutions to mitigate burnout,” Dr. Johnson said. “These problems require systems-level interventions to reduce the stress placed on clinicians and researchers.”

Don’t Miss ATS 2024 Highlights: On Demand

Don’t forget that ATS 2024 Highlights: On Demand are available to all conference registrants! On Demand will give you access to the Opening Ceremony, Plenary Session, Keynote Series, Clinical Year in Review, Adult Clinical Core Curriculum, and so much more. The topics will cover ILD, asthma, health equity, and CF, to name just a few. On Demand content will be accessible to all ATS 2024 full conference and On Demand registrants until March 2025.