CDC issues ‘hospital-tested guide’ to improving nurse burnout

Guide is organized as six-part action plan for boosting morale and ensuring a safe and supportive workplace

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a guide to the nation’s hospital leaders as part of the first federal campaign to address health care worker burnout. Burnout was already a significant concern, but has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

According to an October 2023 CDC report, more than twice as many health workers reported harassment on the job in 2022 than in 2018 — before the pandemic. Up 32% since 2018, almost half of health workers reported often feeling burned out in 2022. Up nearly 33%, roughly half of health workers said they would look for a new job in 2022, as compared to 2018.

In 2023, the International Council of Nurses called the consequential shortage of nurses a “global health emergency.” The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently released an “evidence-informed and actionable” guide to help combat the burnout.

“The role of healthcare workers in taking care of all of us is absolutely vital to our society, to our economy, and to our culture,” John Howard, MD, director of NIOSH, said in the press release. “But our healthcare workforce needs to feel supported, too”

The guide is organized as a six-part action plan dedicated to boosting staff morale and ensuring both a safe and supportive work environment. The action plan is intended to be used by hospital leaders and executives.

  • Action 1: Review the hospital’s operations
  • Action 2: Build a professional well-being team
  • Action 3: Break down barriers for those seeking help
  • Action 4: Communicate your commitment to professional well-being
  • Action 5: Integrate professional well-being into quality improvement
  • Action 6: Develop a long-term professional well-being plan

“We know hospital leaders have a lot of competing demands and it can be overwhelming to know where to start when working to improve professional wellbeing,” Stefanie Simmons, MD, chief medical officer, Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation and a board-certified emergency medicine physician and healthcare executive, said in the press release.

“The Guide provides hospital leaders across the country the tools for putting together a more cohesive wellbeing strategy,” she continued, “allowing them to take stock of where they are now, highlighting some of the missing pieces, and taking action to get to where they want to be.”

You can read the full guide here.