Improving physician well-being and reducing burnout using a peer-to-peer recognition program

Jenny Chang, Vinay Saggar, Alexis Cortijo-Brown, Benjamin W. Friedman, Michael Jones, Simiao Li-Sauerwine, Katie Rebillot, Jill Corbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Drivers of physician burnout include an intricate interplay between health care organizational structures, societal influences, and individual-level factors. In the traditional workforce, peer-to-peer recognition programs (PRPs) have reduced burnout by building a sense of community and effectively creating a “wellness culture.” We implemented a PRP in an emergency medicine (EM) residency and determined its impact on subjective symptoms of burnout and wellness. Methods: This was a prospective, pre- and postintervention study conducted in a single residency over a 6-month period. All 84 EM residents of the program were sent a voluntary anonymized survey that included a validated instrument on wellness and burnout. A PRP was initiated. After 6 months, a second survey was distributed. The outcome of the study was to examine whether the addition of a PRP reduced burnout and improved wellness. Results: There were 84 respondents to the pre-PRP survey and 72 to the post-PRP survey. Respondents reported an improvement after the inception of the use of the PRP in two factors that contribute to a physician's wellness: feeling recognized for accomplishments at work, which improved from 45% (38/84) affirmative to 63% (45/72; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.3%–32.4%, p = 0.025) and a comfortable and supportive work environment, which improved from 68% (57/84) to 85% (61/72; 95% CI 3.5%–29.3%, p = 0.014). There was no significant effect in the Stanford Professional Fulfillment Index (PFI) as a result of this intervention over the 6 months. Conclusions: A PRP initiative resulted in improvements in several factors that drive physician wellness but overall burnout measured by the Stanford PFI did not show any improvement over the 6-month period. A future longitudinal study examining the continuous assessment of PRP on the EM residents throughout the entire course of 4 years of residency training would be beneficial to determine if it could change burnout from year to year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere10861
JournalAEM Education and Training
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Education
  • Emergency


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