Harris, Murthy to outline recommendations to address health worker burnout

Vice President Harris and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Monday will visit Children’s National Hospital to highlight the issue of burnout and mental health among healthcare workers.

The two officials will detail a new advisory from the surgeon general highlighting the need to address burnout among healthcare workers, who have been inundated with patients and put at risk during the last two years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The advisory details efforts to combat burnout and provide additional resources to healthcare workers. While at Children’s National Hospital, Harris and Murthy will meet with staff to discuss their experiences with stress and anxiety on the job.

“The nation’s health depends on the well-being of our health workforce. Confronting the long-standing drivers of burnout among our health workers must be a top national priority,” Murthy said in a statement.

“COVID-19 has been a uniquely traumatic experience for the health workforce and for their families, pushing them past their breaking point. Now, we owe them a debt of gratitude and action. And if we fail to act, we will place our nation’s health at risk.”

The recommendations in the Surgeon General’s advisory released Monday include eliminating punitive policies for seeking mental health and substance abuse care; ensuring adequate staffing, particularly during public health emergencies; increasing time spent with patients instead of on administrative work; and encouraging healthcare workers to speak out about their issues.

The issue of burnout and mental health has received greater attention during the pandemic, with hospital workers being hailed as frontline heroes and the public having broader discussions about the toll the pandemic has taken emotionally and mentally.

Burnout among healthcare workers has been a particular point of focus, as experts have warned a shortage of hospital workers or a lack of capacity to take in patients could exacerbate any future surges in COVID-19 cases.

The Biden administration previously allocated more than $100 million through the American Rescue Plan to promote mental health and wellness among health workers, and President Biden spoke in his State of the Union address earlier this year about tackling the mental health crisis.