Stanford Medicine once again earned the American Medical Association’s Joy in Medicine award and is the only organization to have twice attained gold-level status.

“Although we still have a way to go to create the environment we aspire to, the fact that Stanford Medicine is the only organization to achieve the highest level of recognition every year of the award speaks to its commitment to create an environment that promotes professional fulfillment,” said Tait Shanafelt, MD, chief wellness officer and the Jeanie and Stew Ritchie Professor at Stanford Medicine. “The challenges we have experienced over the last 18 months have underscored the critical need to reduce unnecessary work, increase flexibility, enhance meaning in work and provide the resources people need to take care of themselves, their families and each other.”   

The AMA began the Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program in 2019 as part of an initiative to counter burnout among physicians, nurses and other health care workers. The association evaluates organizations’ commitment and effort to reduce work-related burnout among clinicians, issuing gold, silver and bronze awards.

In 2019, the AMA gave awards to 22 health care organizations across the United States, with two receiving gold-level designation. In 2021, it recognized 44 organizations, with five receiving gold-level designation. (The association skipped 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.)

“The health systems we recognize today are true leaders in promoting an organizational response that makes a difference in the lives of the health care workforce,” AMA president Gerald Harmon said in a press release.

Stanford Medicine was the first academic medical center in the nation to appoint a chief wellness officer, in June 2017. It established the WellMD and WellPhD Center to work with school and hospital leaders to build an environment that improves physicians’ and biomedical researchers’ well-being, with the goal of reducing burnout and increasing professional fulfillment.