When choosing and leading well-being initiatives, consider what would most meaningfully help you and your colleagues thrive.
In my early teens, I spent a few summers at an academic camp. After class was over for the day, they had a session that was half-jokingly named “Mandatory Fun” that we were required to attend. Many liked the idea, but others just felt it was just a requirement that didn’t alleviate stress.
I think of that this spring as we emerge from the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency and need to consider well-being in a new way. Some of us are tired of being advised to go to the free yoga classes, mindfulness sessions, or snack breaks our jobs might offer. Although those things are nice, they may feel like band-aids to a larger systemic problem in medicine. I’ve heard from residents that they sometime see wellness as yet another check box to add to the many things on their daily to-do list.
Some national thought leaders in well-being highlight the disconnect between add on wellness programming and he desire to really support clinicians to thrive in their work. One idea they’ve proposed is that healthcare leaders adopt a leadership style termed “Wellness Centered Leadership.”
We all have a role to play in leading a cultural change in medicine, so that we can all thrive. And so, I think three leadership elements can speak to us all:
1. Always care about people, including both patients and colleagues.
2. Cultivate individual and team relationships.
3. Work toward cultural change in medicine.
Well-being leaders emphasize that a leader can’t truly care about people unless they also take care of self. I encourage you to start small and think about what would meaningfully help you thrive and feel well.
For some, it’s by having interests and hobbies outside of work. For others, it’s prioritizing what gives meaning to your work. Passionate about science? Take 20 minutes to read the primary data to better understand why you’re recommending that new medication for your patient. Find meaning in relationships with your patients? Prioritize making a home visit to a patient at the end of her life. Jazzed about teaching others? Volunteer for a few hours to teach K-12 students about medicine or science. Small acts will inspire change.
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.