Intended for healthcare professionals


Sense of belonging is a critical component of workforce retention

51app 2024; 384 doi: (Published 16 February 2024) Cite this as: 51app 2024;384:q392
  1. Julie K Silver, associate professor1,
  2. Elizabeth H Ellinas, founding director2,
  3. Allison C Augustus-Wallace, associate professor-research3
  1. 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  2. 2Center for the Advancement of Women in Science and Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin Milwaukee, WI, USA
  3. 3Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, School of Medicine, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, USA
  1. Correspondence to: J K Silver Julie_Silver{at}hms.harvard.edu

Healthcare organisations should foster belonging in all policies and practices

Attrition of doctors from healthcare systems has reached crises levels in the US, UK, and throughout the European Union. The situation is expected to worsen—causing more harm to patients and to doctors,123 for whom burnout, moral injury, and stress related health conditions are drivers for dissatisfaction and ultimately attrition. Attrition pathways include doctors reducing hours or effort (“quiet quitting”), moving to another institution, or leaving medicine altogether. Much of the literature on workforce retention focuses on improving pay, hours, workload, and wellbeing. Though these are important issues, one of the most basic human needs—a sense of belonging—has been largely ignored.

A sense of belonging is often described as feeling valued, needed, and in alignment with the values or goals of a group or organisation.45 Belonging is distinct from but related to concepts of diversity and inclusion, and requires workplaces to intentionally welcome individuals from traditionally excluded groups …

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