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ACP Leaders Call for Strategies to Support the Well-being of the Physician Workforce in the COVID-19 Environment

PHILADELPHIA, September 28, 2021 – A group of American College of Physicians (ACP) leaders are calling on employers to provide tactical support to physicians and other clinicians to ensure they can safely care for patients and support one another during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ideas and Opinions articleGetting Through COVID-19: Keeping Clinicians in the Workforce,” is published today in Annals of Internal Medicine. The authors of the article are Darilyn V. Moyer, MD, FACP, FRCP, FIDSA; Eileen Barrett, MD, MPH; Susan Thompson Hingle, MD; and Cynthia D. Smith, MD.

The authors say employers must move beyond suggesting stress reduction activities such as yoga and meditation. They call upon every health system, hospital, and clinical practice to adopt a variety of recommendations, considering recommendations in conjunction with their frontline clinicians to decide which would be most impactful and feasible in their current environments. Recommendations include:

  • Ensuring physical safety by reducing clinician’s risk of contracting COVID through vaccination mandates, policies and practices that ensure universal masking and adequate ventilation in work areas, and access to personal protective equipment
  • Providing professional development and training in the areas clinicians identify as causing emotional stress or moral injury.
  • Providing sufficient time during clinical encounters for members of the care team to address COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation
  • Supporting clinicians who are parents by offering flexible work schedules, support groups, and supporting policies for reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission in school settings.
  • Reducing administrative tasks that are not mission-critical. 
  • Adopting robust anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies to acknowledge and mitigate harm particularly against minoritized people.
  • Offering free and confidential resources to support clinicians’ mental health including the ACP IM Emotional Support Hub.
  • Updating credentialing and employment applications to remove unnecessary questions about mental and physical health diagnoses.
  • Actively encouraging clinicians to use vacation and professional development days available to nurture a mentally healthy workplace.
  • Implementing suicide prevention strategies including “wellness check-ins” for clinicians in hard-hit areas.

According to the authors, “As physicians, educators, peers, and friends of COVID responders, we are gravely concerned about our colleagues’ exhaustion, burnout, and disillusionment. The adage that no crisis should go to waste presents us with many opportunities to do better – and the ongoing waves of the pandemic creates a new urgency to do so.”

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About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 161,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

ACP Media Contact: Andrew Hachadorian, (215) 351-2514​, AHachadorian@acponline.org