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A Message from the Chief Wellness Officer

While the state of physician well-being in our country is still alarming, there’s a mindset shift taking place around the country. Rather than leaving well-being up to the individual alone, leaders at healthcare and governmental organizations are increasingly recognizing the institution’s essential role in mitigating this national epidemic. 

Stanford Medicine continues to play a central role in this vital movement. In 2019, Stanford Medicine was given the highest designation possible in the American Medical Association (AMA)’s “Joy in Medicine” program. As one of only two organizations to receive this honor, we were recognized for our preeminence in this area and the fact that we have the systems and processes in place to make meaningful, organizational progress. 

The WellMD & WellPhD Center is also sharing the knowledge and data that we’ve developed while we also learn from others. For example, I have the honor of serving as one of six MDs on the National Academy of Medicine (NAM)’s Committee on Systems Approaches to Improve Patient Care by Supporting Clinician Well-Being. In addition, we offer the Stanford Chief Wellness Officer Course, an annual one-week workshop that aims to equip CWOs or equivalent executives to strategically advance physician well-being in their organizations. And in partnership with the AMA and the Mayo Clinic, the WellMD & WellPhD Center also hosts the American Conference on Physician Health (ACPH), a three-day, biennial scientific conference. 

As we work with collaborators around the nation to improve physician well-being, we expect to see a ripple effect in so many other areas — most notably, on patients. Ultimately, ensuring the well-being of physicians gives them the strength to focus on why they entered this vocation in the first place: to deliver the highest quality of care to people when they need it most. Today most institutions are realizing that addressing physician well-being is inextricably linked to providing exceptional patient care as well.

— Tait Shanafelt, MD
Chief Wellness Officer

A Dual Mission

WellMD

To advance the well-being of physicians and those they serve.

WellPhD

To advance the well-being of biomedical scientists and the beneficiaries of their contributions.

How We Advance Well-Being

Problem

Physicians and biomedical scientists are at increased risk for burnout and low professional fulfillment relative to workers in other fields. Physicians in particular suffer from starkly low levels of well-being. While there have been improvements in recent years, about 44 percent of physicians in a recent study reported at least one symptom of burnout, and only about 43 percent reported satisfaction with their work-life integration.


Our Framework

To frame our understanding of professional fulfillment, we developed the Stanford Model for Professional FulfillmentTM, which depicts key contributors. This framework places shared responsibility on the organization, department, and team as well as on the individual.

We call on Stanford Medicine as an organization to invest in a Culture of Wellness and advance Efficiency of Practice while each of us tends to our own Personal Resilience. These components are interrelated and feed into one another — together, they increase professional fulfillment.

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Our Approach

The Stanford Model for Professional FulfillmentTM is a helpful starting point for thinking about the factors that increase healthcare professional fulfillment, a goal that’s broader and more comprehensive than merely reducing burnout.

With these factors in mind, we identified the high-level strategic priorities and choices we must make in order to move from the current to desired state of professional fulfillment across our organization. This strategy focuses our efforts, informs our decisions, and directs how we allocate resources. It also clarifies what we are choosing not to do.

While a strategy to promote well-being must be tailored to meet the unique challenges, opportunities, and goals of each organization, several fundamental components can serve as a blueprint to guide the well-being strategy for most organizations: foundational programs, culture transformation, rapid iterative experimentation, and sustainability.

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Our Team

Led by experts in physician and biomedical scientist well-being research and best practices, the WellMD & WellPhD Center team is dedicated to helping promote professional fulfillment at Stanford and beyond.

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Collaborators

The WellMD & WellPhD Center works with state, national and peer organizations to drive improvements in well-being, while generating tools and resources that can directly benefit physicians and scientists everywhere.

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History

Progress at Stanford

Physician well-being at Stanford Medicine remains a key focus for Stanford Medicine’s institutional and departmental leadership. The Center has put in place numerous programs to gauge and track progress:

  • The Stanford Doctor Survey™ and Stanford Scientist Survey™ — These evaluations track improvement and development opportunities for reducing burnout and promoting professional fulfillment. Participation in the most recent survey was the highest on record.
  • Commensality Groups — Facilitated small-group discussions that have been shown to increase the sense of connection and collegiality among physicians and build comradery and meaning in work.
  • Task Forces — Formed in response to physician community feedback and emerging national trends. Recent task force recommendations have included how to best mitigate patient mistreatment of physicians as well as provide lactation resources for working physicians.
  • Operational Plan Metrics — Physician well-being is now part of operational plan key metrics for Stanford Medicine, with key wellness metrics established alongside quality & safety and patient experience. 
  • Electronic Health Record (EHR) Efficiencies — In collaboration with the WellMD & WellPhD Center, Stanford Medicine CMIOs developed the Clinician Logged In Outside Clinic (CLOC) assessment tool, which tracks the extent to which physicians work after hours in the ambulatory environment. In addition, Stanford Medicine hosts numerous summit meetings and conferences about EHRs, including Dean Lloyd Minor’s annual EHR National Symposium, which brings together leading experts from health care, technology, and policy.
  • Stories of Strength — Through this series, the Center is highlighting the everyday stories of setbacks and comebacks, reflections and resets within our physician community.