National Academy of Medicine Spotlights Ohio State's Efforts to Reduce Clinician Burnout, Improve Well-Being

New case study details actions to stem growing epidemic in healthcare


Newswise — COLUMBUS, Ohio – The National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience released a comprehensive and groundbreaking case study today about how The Ohio State University is working to stem the growing epidemic of clinician burnout in healthcare settings. 

The case study highlights the university’s comprehensive approach to health and wellness. It also details specific efforts across several sectors of the university – the College of Nursing, College of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine Residency Program and the Wexner Medical Center – to support well-being among clinicians, faculty, staff and students. Ohio State is the first university in the nation featured by NAM as a role model in wellness and prevention. 

Leadership at all levels of the university and medical center say they fully invest in and support the abundance of wellness initiatives and programming so that all clinicians, faculty and staff are healthy, happy and engaged. 

“The success of our university and our medical enterprise is driven by our people, and supporting their well-being is among our highest priorities,” said Dr. Michael V. Drake, president of The Ohio State University. “In addition to happier and healthier Buckeyes, these efforts help create a more efficient, innovative and effective organization.” 

Ohio State calculates a cumulative productivity net savings of more than $15 million from wellness programming, as well as a $3.65 return on investment for every dollar invested in wellness. Additional impacts include: improvements in cardiovascular health; decreases in pre-diabetes, depression and anxiety; and increases in healthy lifestyle behaviors and academics among students, faculty and staff. 

“The initiatives detailed within this case study are transformational for our clinicians, faculty, staff and students. I’m proud of the leadership provided by Ohio State as part of the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience,” said Dr. Harold L. Paz, executive vice president and chancellor of health affairs and CEO of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “This effort is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is incumbent upon all of us to keep building the momentum.” 

Research shows that more than half of all clinicians in the country experience symptoms of burnout such as compassion fatigue, cynicism, self-doubt and exhaustion. Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, APRN-CNP, who serves as vice president of health promotion, university chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing at Ohio State, is also the first designated chief wellness officer at an institution of higher learning in the United States. She said the initiatives highlighted in the case study point to the importance of building and sustaining a culture of wellness at every level. 

“It is critical to create an exciting vision and strategic plan for wellness that includes evidence-based interventions and diligent monitoring of outcomes over time,” said Melnyk, who recently published an article on clinician burnout in the American Journal of Accountable Care. “Culture eats strategy, yet it takes time to build a culture that promotes optimal well-being and makes healthy behaviors the norm. Leaders, faculty and managers must ‘walk the talk’ and provide needed wellness resources as well as support for grassroots initiatives.” 

Initiatives detailed within the case study include: 

  • University as a whole: Ohio State earned praise for making well-being a “core organizational strategy” through the strategic leadership of the interdisciplinary One University Health and Wellness Council. Ohio State pioneered the role of Chief Wellness Officer at an institution of higher learning (current CWO and College of Nursing Dean Melnyk), who among other responsibilities, supports the “Health Athlete” program to help clinicians, leadership, faculty and staff refocus and re-energize their personal and professional lives. The Buckeye Wellness initiative leads university-wide efforts to create and sustain a culture of wellness, including engagement with Buckeye Wellness Innovators who develop grassroots plans for their individual units and champion the wellness culture. 
  • College of Nursing: The college’s five-year strategic plan identifies “personal and professional wellness” as core values and incorporates well-being both throughout academic programs and an established culture in the workplace. The MINDSTRONG program is an evidence-based, cognitive-behavioral skills-building effort in which all nursing students participate as part of the curriculum; a one-credit MINDSTRONG course available to all undergraduate and graduate students starts this Autumn Semester. Among other methods to integrate wellness into curricula, the college’s optional Banding Together for Wellness program is a student-focused offering that promotes self-care for nurses and sets a norm of improving and maintaining personal wellness. 
  • College of Medicine: Mentorship, diverse learning options and peer-to-peer programming have keyed the college’s cultural and curricular changes enhance student well-being over the past decade. College leadership works to break down walls by offering support and being transparent about their own stresses so that students are empowered and encouraged to do the same. An integrated, required curriculum is designed to help students build professional and personal life-enhancing skills. Students are evaluated on a pass/fail basis in their first two years to assess student performance and promote a collaborative culture while minimizing stress and anxiety. Individual wellness plans are also developed by new medical students as part of Career Exploration Week, which includes assignment to a faculty member as a portfolio coach. 
  • Department of Emergency Medicine Residency Program: This program prioritizes resident well-being by cultivating a community of trust and compassion. The department uses informal assessments and input from residents to implement key initiatives. Formal resident-only Schwartz Rounds® provide opportunity for residents to discuss the issues – both social and emotional – that they face in caring for patients and families. The program works to build a “home away from home” through events and activities in which residents’ families can engage. Faculty have recently begun occasionally volunteering to babysit to free up residents with children for activities or a date night with their significant others. 
  • Wexner Medical Center: The STAR program (Stress, Trauma and Resilience) supports clinician well-being through Brief Emotional Support Teams (to help clinicians after stressful or traumatic events) and Schwartz Rounds®. The Gabbe Health and Wellness Initiative, named for the former CEO of the Wexner Medical Center and his family, coordinates programs to improve the well-being of faculty and staff, including a free mindfulness course, culinary medicine classes and well-being retreats. 

“To reduce the alarming rates of student, trainee and clinician burnout, organizations must take action to implement programs and policies that address the drivers of burnout and support well-being. Organizations can learn from those already implementing solutions. The release of publicly-available case studies from the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience is an important step in this direction,” said Charlee Alexander, director of the National Academy of Medicine Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience. “The Ohio State University, Virginia Mason Kirkland Medical Center and others are making strides to support clinician well-being at an organizational level, and the case study series provides a platform for shared learning.” 

The case studies released today featuring Ohio State and Virginia Mason Kirkland Medical Center near Seattle, Washington are the first of several such studies that NAM plans to release moving forward. 

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Contacts:

National Academy of Medicine

ClinicianWellBeing@nas.edu

 

Phil Saken

The Ohio State University College of Nursing

847-275-9025 (cell)

Saken.2@osu.edu

 

Marti Leitch

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

614-293-3737 (office)

Marti.Leitch@osumc.edu


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