AMA honors UCI Health for promoting well-being of healthcare workers

October 13, 2022
Joy in Medicine badge 2022
UCI Health earns AMA award for promoting wellness among its healthcare workers. It is one of only two California health systems among the 28 to receive the 2022 award for combating work-related stress and burnout.

Irvine, Calif. — The American Medical Association’s Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program today honored UCI Health for its efforts to promote the well-being of its healthcare providers.

The AMA distinction is granted only to those organizations that demonstrate a commitment to preserving the health of clinical care team members by engaging in proven efforts to combat work-related stress and burnout.  

"It is an honor for UCI Health to receive the American Medical Association Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Award,” said Anju Hurria, MD, MPH, director of the University of California, Irvine’s Faculty Wellness Program, inaugural wellness officer for the UCI Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute and associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the UCI School of Medicine. 

“The work of multiple teams at UCI Health contributed to this award — from the integrative health institute's Office of Wellbeing, EPIC team and Graduate Medical Education team to the Department of Quality and Patient Safety," she said.

Advocate for wellness

UCI Health child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Anju Hurria also directs the UCI Faculty Wellness Program, troubleshooting and advocating for the mental and physical health of more than 10,000 faculty and staff across UCI health sciences.
Dr. Anju Hurria, a UCI Health child and adolescent psychiatrist, directs faculty wellness efforts at UCI.

As wellness officer, Hurria is responsible for troubleshooting and advocating for the mental and physical health of more than 10,000 faculty and staff within the UCI Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, which includes the schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, public health program and the integrative health institute.

"We will continue to focus on these areas as the well-being of our clinicians and the culture of the institution are of the utmost importance and ultimately improve patient care," she said.

The today's announcement, the national medical organization sought to honor institutions that are working toward creating a culture that values the health of its caregivers. 

"Health systems that have earned recognition from the AMA’s Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program have demonstrated that the well-being of health professionals is essential to caring for the health and wellness of patients, families and communities,” said AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD.

“United by a commitment to build a culture of wellness that energizes care teams, the recipients of the Joy in Medicine Recognition are at the forefront and among the best at creating a workplace that makes a difference in the lives of clinical caregivers.”

Pandemic heightened stress

A 2021 report based on an AMA-led study of physician stress during the early days of the pandemic showed that "feeling valued by one’s organization was strongly associated with lower stress and served as a protective factor against work-related physician burnout, which had grown to an all-time high of 63% by early 2022.

The AMA study paved the way for many organizations to re-examine how leadership, culture, peer support and removing obstacles to patient care act together to create the conditions where joy, purpose and meaning in medicine are possible. The 2022 Joy in Medicine recipients have all taken important steps to support physician well-being for the long term, the AMA found.

“Research shows that when you have a well culture in the medical profession, not only are employees happier and healthier, but it leads to better patient care,” said Hurria, a UCI Health child and adolescent psychiatrist. “If you have physicians and nurses who don’t feel burned out, they’re able to provide more cautious and thoughtful care to patients."

Healthcare providers vulnerable, too

"It’s important to debunk this idea that healthcare providers are perfect and to remind them that we’re all susceptible to mental and physical health issues. At UCI Health, we are committed to top-quality patient care, and this includes taking care of those who provide the care.”

Some of those efforts include peer mentor programs, counseling services, improving efficiencies, virtual wellbeing services and other resources, she said.

The AMA began the Joy in Medicine Recognition Program in 2019 to create momentum for a wide-spanning change in the culture of medicine that emphasizes professional well-being in healthcare.

This year, UCI Health is one of only two California health systems among 28 nationwide to earn the recognition. These systems, which represent more than 80,000 physicians, documented efforts to reduce system-level drivers of work-related burnout and demonstrated competencies in commitment, assessment, leadership, efficiency of practice environment, teamwork and support. The 2022 recipients join more than 50 organizations representing more than 120,000 physicians, recognized by the program since its inception.

UCI Health is the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine, and the only academic health system in Orange County. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its flagship campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif. The 459-bed, acute-care hospital, listed among America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 22 consecutive years, provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center is home to Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centerhigh-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.