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How to Create a Clinician Wellness Committee

Creating a wellness committee is a concrete first step an organization can take to foster a culture of clinician wellness.

Clinician well-being is not only critical to enhancing patient safety, but plays an important role in recruiting and retaining physicians. Stress in the medical workplace is generated by:

  • Increasing internal and external complexity
  • Greater pressure and accountability
  • Lack of work/life balance
  • Loss of autonomy and control
  • Loss of revenue and higher costs of practice
  • Rising number of malpractice suits and cost of insurance

An organizational commitment to create a Clinician Wellness Committee typically begins with recognition of the physician as a precious resource by the executive leadership team.

How to Create a Clinician Wellness Committee

  • Get buy in from executive leaders – their support is necessary
    • Find executive champion
    • Use toolbox resources including:
      • Elevator Speech
      • Rationale, fast facts
      • Practice Advisor module entitled Making the Case to Address Clinician Burnout
      • Return on investment calculator
  • Invite clinicians (physicians and APPs) from various departments and clinics within the system (inpatient, outpatient, surgical, primary care, etc.)
    • Try to get a mix of in terms of age, years worked at institution and gender so all voices represented

 Determine the Clinician Wellness Committee’s Role 

Clinician Wellness Committees can take on a variety of roles, including education, support and consultation.    In general, these committees do not conduct formal interventions; those are more often handled by a medical executive or outside professional due to potential legal liability, confidentiality and mandated reporting requirements.  Some potential activities of a Clinician Wellness Committee include:

  • Hosting regular wellness seminars or programs
  • Fostering support groups for clinicians dealing with similar situations; e.g., facing litigation; dealing with grief; feeling overwhelmed by work processes.
  • Offering peer-to-peer coaching

How to Create a Clinician Wellness Committee Charter

Clinician Wellness Committees should be governed by a charter.  In general, charters contain the following elements:

  • Purpose:  Brief explanation of Committee’s role
  • Scope:  What the Committee will and won’t do (e.g., committee will undertake educational events and provide one to one support but will not organize support groups)
  • Objectives/Outcomes: What the committee hopes to accomplish
  • Measures of Success:  How will the committee know it has reached its objectives
  • Learning and Support Needs:  What does the committee need to be successful

In addition, the charter should address important administrative considerations including:

  • Committee’s decision-making authority
  • Who committee reports to, how often, and what is reported
  • Communication expectations – what can the committee communicate to others, and through what channels
  • Meeting frequency and schedule
  • Number and composition of members, criteria for serving, length of term
  • Officer roles and responsibilities (e.g., Chair, Vice Chair,  other)
    • Chair generally  Prepares and/or approves agenda; chairs the meetings and facilitates discussion; ensures appropriate decisions are made; coordinates and ensures dissemination of communication documents; ensures charter is reviewed on an annual basis; ensures objectives and measures of success are updated as needed
    • Vice Chair generally  chairs the meeting if Chair is unavailable, facilitates discussion and ensures appropriate decisions are made; along with Chair, ensures objectives and measures of success are achieved

Tips

  • Offering food helps if meetings are over lunch hour
  • Change the day of the week and location of the meetings around to accommodate busy schedules and facilitate attendance (especially important on a big campus)
    • Example:
      January, meeting on a Monday in clinic 1 in conference room A
      February, meeting on a Friday in clinic 2 in conference room B
      March, meeting on Tuesday in clinic 3 in conference room C
  • Send emails between meetings to encourage everyone to have a voice if they can’t make a meeting
  • See if conference phone is available for those who can’t attend in person
  • Offer parking for people who have to drive to the meeting
  • Develop sub committees to accomplish bigger projects
  • Think about how to communicate to the broader audience (to get members, share findings, etc.):
    • Monthly/Quarterly/etc. email
    • Website (internal or external)