Creating a culture of wellbeing from the inside out
It’s a well-known adage: Put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. Following that advice, however, can be a challenge in health care. There’s always another patient to be seen right away, another shift to help fill, another project to complete before the deadline.
The result has been a dramatic increase in job burnout, affecting more than half of America’s health care workers, including those at Asante. Post-pandemic, employees are experiencing insomnia, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health challenges, according to a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine written by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD.
In this environment, promoting employee wellbeing has gone from nice-to-have to must-have.
This is where the Asante Wellbeing Program comes in. Formed in 2019 to prevent provider burnout, it has since expanded into a systemwide effort to promote the wellbeing of all Asante employees.
The program now involves departments and programs from across Asante — APP clinics, Human Resources, Asante Health Promotion, recruiting and retention, professional development, trauma-informed care, ABIDE (Asante Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity), Just Culture, Epic teams and Workplace Violence Prevention — to focus on both the personal and systemic drivers of burnout.
The goal is to create a work culture that supports both personal and professional wellbeing.
Asante’s program is based upon a groundbreaking model developed by Tait Shanafelt, chief wellness officer at Stanford Medicine. The four pillars of Asante’s program are personal resilience, workplace efficiency, organizational culture and professionalism.
“The most important misconception is that burning out is a personal failing — that if one were only ‘stronger’ they would not burn out,” said Barry Egener, MD, who is leading the program. “This creates a stigma that prevents people from seeking the help they need to thrive.”
The group’s work is just beginning. It has formed a broad operational committee that will weave wellbeing principles into all aspects of the organization, from hiring to leadership training.
“The overall culture at Asante will play a large role in our wellbeing,” Egener said. “We’ll all need to foster the concept that mental wellness is the same as physical wellness.”
And because we’re a health system, success will be measured by outcomes. The metrics are still being determined, but they will include Asante’s job vacancy rate and responses to employee surveys.
Initiative interventions will impact all levels at Asante, from top leadership to your particular work unit. Learn how to become involved in future articles in this wellbeing series.
If you have a question, please contact the author or relevant department directly.