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Wellness Office to Promote Joy and Work-Life Balance

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Wellness Office to Promote Joy and Work-Life Balance

Wellness Office to Promote Joy and Work-Life Balance

Paul Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Janice Clements (right), vice dean for faculty, spoke with attendees at a Jan. 18 celebration of the Joy in Medicine Task Force’s work.

Christina DuVernay

Date: 02/08/2018

Establishing a Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Office to focus on making workplace culture more conducive to work-life integration is one of the main recommendations made by the Joy in Medicine Task Force in its final report, released in December. Other recommendations include increasing opportunities for professional advancement, making Epic easier to use and lightening the training burden.

The goal is to create the Wellness Office and engage a faculty member as its director by the end of this fiscal year. Implementing other task force recommendations made by the task force will start in FY19.

Burnout has been on the rise among physicians and nurses nationwide, with potential impacts on patient care. With greater levels of burnout come more medical errors and other risks to patient safety, as well as lower patient satisfaction scores.1 Ever-larger workloads, changes in practice demanded by the use of electronic health records, pressure to hit quality and other targets, and a greater regulatory burden are all cited as factors that drive the joy out of medical practice. These same factors have had an impact on how clinical faculty, research faculty, and nurses at Johns Hopkins Medicine feel about their work, with recent data showing some cause for concern.

To help faculty and staff members reconnect with joy and meaning in their work, Paul Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, convened the Joy in Medicine Task Force to identify barriers to happiness and satisfaction at work and suggest solutions for overcoming them.

Chaired by Janice Clements, vice dean for faculty, and William Baumgartner, senior vice president of the Office of Johns Hopkins Physicians, the task force looked at these five areas:  

  • clinical and faculty support
  • Epic workflow
  • culture and work-life balance
  • regulatory and other required training
  • clinical operations

“What our work revealed was the magnitude of the forces that lessen joy among our faculty,” says Clements. “We want faculty to do the best clinical work, the best research, the best teaching, at a time when there is a much larger regulatory burden than before, a smaller pool of research funds and changes in clinical practice such as the use of Epic, all of which serve as drags on joy.”

Committees were assigned to study each area and seek input from multiple perspectives.

“We aimed to identify what creates joy and what detracts from it, hearing from physicians, nurses and research faculty,” says Rosalyn Stewart, an internist who co-chaired the committee that examined training requirements.

The task force also recommends charging the Office of Johns Hopkins Physicians, the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, and nursing leadership to work collaboratively on eliminating inefficiencies in clinical processes. Suggested changes could include creation of staffing models that offer greater support to clinicians, allowing them more time to do the most fulfilling part of their work: taking care of patients.

The multiple demands on providers’ time today, says Redonda Miller, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, can interfere with their clinical work. “The Joy in Medicine Task Force’s recommendations will create new opportunities for providers to rediscover what led them into the medical field — their desire to help others — and reconnect with joy.”

“The task force’s overriding goal was to help people find time in their day to do the work that brings them joy,” says Clements.

Baumgartner, who will retire soon, says his work on the task force is some of the most meaningful he’s done during his long career on the medical faculty as well as in leadership roles. “I’m thankful I had this chance to help set the institution on a brighter course,” Baumgartner says.


1. Tait D. Shanafelt et al. Addressing Physician Burnout: The Way Forward. JAMA. 2017;317(9):901–902.