"Joy" in practice requires workforce well-being

Christine Runyan, University of Massachusetts Medical School


In this column, the president of the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association notes that the national conversation about physician burnout has recently shifted to discussing the importance of finding joy in practice. However, she is concerned the current culture of medicine, hidden curricula in medical training, a draconian financial system, and an emotionally ill-prepared workforce may preclude sustained joy in practice. Formal curricula do not include resiliency skills, mindfulness, cognitive flexibility and reframing, conflict-resolution skills, emotional-regulation skills, or how to practice empathy and compassion without crumbling from vicarious trauma. With all the emphasis on technical proficiency, there has been insufficient emphasis on strategies for maintaining personal well-being. To the extent investment follows what we measure, the well-being of the entire health care workforce is a worthwhile data point to chase. Collaborative Family Healthcare Association membership is infused with the knowledge and skills to design and promote health care teams and systems that can foster, measure, and sustain joy.