The wellness movement in emergency medicine has evolved over the past few years, moving its focus from a largely social structure aimed to build community within our ranks, to an exploration of self with a focus on resilience and restoration. Most recently, the wellness movement has recognized and set its sights on the need to bridge the gap by focusing on larger organizational and operational issues that truly affect physicians on the day-to-day to improve their well-being.
In response to the wellness movement, ACEP Wellness Week, held in April 2019, encouraged departments to compete in a Departmental Challenge. Departments were asked to submit their Wellness Mission and Vision statements and one demonstration of a group initiative (Step Challenge, Group Activity, Gratitude Challenge or Random Acts of Kindness Activity).
While we had a large number of submissions this year, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine in New York City was selected as this year’s winner. Highlights of their full submission included their mission and vision statement (below), their peer-support group “Doc Box,” and coordinating a Steps Challenge between several other local EDs. Their submission demonstrated a solid commitment to physician wellness (signed by their chair) along with an emphasis on combating burnout.
The central goal for the Departmental Challenge was the creation of the mission and vision statement. The mission and vision statement is essentially a roadmap that organizations use to synthesize and express the values they would like promulgated throughout their organization from top to bottom. Through this exercise, faculty can have their say by defining the mission of the department, ensuring that they are meaningful from the viewpoint of frontline physicians.
Here’s how creating a Wellness Mission and Vision Statement can help your local wellness committee:
- Unite the team: The experience forces a concerted effort by your team to have a healthy discussion about their ideas on the direction of the departmental wellness initiatives
- Align values: Through the discussions, a consensus is achieved on the core values that must be considered in all future initiatives.
- Sets the stage: With a thoughtful Wellness Mission and Vision Statement, the stage is set to define your Strategic Plan to determine the specific steps needed to reach the desired outcomes.
- Gravitas: Departmental leaders engaged as signatories are an important step that ensures they are aware of the movement within the faculty and ensures alignment. Obtaining their support also ensures that they will facilitate the navigation of the expected hurdles that you will encounter as your team seeks to embed itself within the operational decision-making.
- Accountability: Stakeholders and departmental leadership, should acknowledge the Wellness Mission and Vision Statement as a way to ensure the department delivers on its goal for wellness.
The ACEP Well-Being Committee urges your team to consider the exercise of creating your own Wellness Mission and Vision Statement. Wellness champions across organizations must recognize they must approach this from multiple angles, including engaging with departmental management and operations; the Mission and Vision Statement is your first step.
Dr. Lakoff and Dr. Mills are members of the ACEP Well-Being Committee .
Mission Statement: The Department of Emergency Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine fosters a culture of health and well-being by providing the resources to help faculty and staff thrive personally and professionally, enabling them to provide the highest quality of care to patients.
The Department of Emergency Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine strives to be a national leader in clinician well-being. We are committed to creating a positive and supportive work environment, allowing our clinicians to provide the highest quality, most compassionate medical care. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Emergency Medicine believes that when clinicians are happy and engaged in their work, the greatest beneficiaries will be their patients.
Burnout affects half of our nation’s physicians; emergency physicians exceed that average. The most devastating effect of burnout is suicide, which afflicts physicians at double the rate of any other profession. This is a multi-factorial and complex issue, yet the current system of care has magnified the factors that lead to burnout. In a vicious cycle, burned-out physicians contribute to further system dysfunction. Frequently cited causes include too many administrative tasks, long work hours, lack of control of the workplace, and the effects of second victim and malpractice stress syndromes. Physicians may feel increasingly overburdened and undervalued while struggling to stay connected to the joy of medicine.
Our department recognizes that physician burnout in emergency medicine is at an all-time high, and infiltrates many areas of a physician’s life. Our goal is to provide our clinicians with the support needed to thrive clinically, professionally, and personally. NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell strive to provide world-class, cutting-edge, compassionate care to each and every patient. Physician wellness is the critical ingredient. Our wellness program has been featured in several national, academic, and media platforms, including at the National Academy of Medicine. In addition, several of our faculty members are on the ACEP National Well-Being Committee.
Rahul Sharma, MD, MBA, FACEP Chairman
Department of Emergency Medicine Weill Cornell Medicine
NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center