Announcing the New Office of Professional Wellbeing

As a means of supporting faculty and learners at the UNM School of Medicine in providing the highest quality medical care, the new Office of Professional Wellbeing (OPW) will provide initiatives that improve efficiency of practice, enhance a culture of wellness, and promote personal resiliency.

This model of wellness for medical professionals comes from research out of Stanford University Medical School, focused on addressing the pervasive national issue of physician burnout.

When people hear the word "wellness" or "wellbeing," it often brings to mind things like yoga and Fitbits and hearty salads. Such personal resilience factors are essential, and there are numerous resources throughout the UNM Health Sciences Center to help nurture and develop those practices, but they aren't the focus of this office.

Dr. Liz Lawrence is the new Chief Wellness Officer and Assistant Dean of Professional Wellbeing, and will run the OPW along with a team of people dedicated to this work.

Reciprocal Domains of Physician Wellbeing

"Personal resilience is only one-third of the puzzle," says Dr. Lawrence. "For (overall) professional wellbeing, we really have to get rid of the chaos that keeps us from doing our jobs and caring for our patients, and build a culture of wellness that includes collegiality and safety."

The first initiatives of the office include didactics - such as grand rounds and workshops for residents - providing curriculum and shared resources to enable the SOM to meet ACGME and LCME wellbeing requirements, and destigmatizing mental health issues and help-seeking.

"To that end we have a new screening program through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention that will be available to all of our learners, and we're working on building a peer-to-peer support program for our faculty," says Dr. Lawrence.

Improving mental health is one facet OPW will focus on to create a culture of wellness; another will be creating educational programs around the basics - what is wellbeing and how can we improve it?

As for efficiency of practice, OPW will work closely with the Physicians Advisory Group and MISSION: Excellence to minimize the chaos in clinical work environments. Dr. Phillips, Director of Faculty Wellbeing Initiatives, will recruit from each department and division to build a consortium of individuals who can identify needs at the local level for the Office of Professional Wellness to address.

For anyone interested in immediate ways they can help support these efforts, the Office of Professional Wellbeing has a few suggestions. To make a difference today, try meeting a friend in the physician lounge, sending an iCares message to recognize excellence, attend a Grand Rounds or workshop, and/or schedule some 1:1 EMR time. To make a difference tomorrow, volunteer to be a division/department faculty wellness champion or provide peer support, plan a meeting with meaning, learn about and participate in a PAUSE, and/or block your afternoon for NPSA on September 17.

"The goal is to recognize that in order to provide the highest quality patient care, we have to be sure that our faculty and our learners are well," Dr. Lawrence says. "There is more and more evidence that when we are not well, we make more medical errors, our care that we provide is higher cost, the patients are less satisfied, our communication is poor, mistreatment rises... So we're taking care of ourselves, because we want to give our patients and our learners the best possible care experience. That's what this office is all about."

Visit the Office of Professional Wellness website to learn more. The website may be under construction; if you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to Dr. Lawrence.

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