A culture of wellness is characterized by high levels of compassion, cooperation and collaboration, and low levels of conflict and competition among members of the health care team. It is supported by positive leadership, effective communication, expressions of appreciation and peer support.
Efforts to improve the culture of wellness at UF Health use both top-down, organization-wide approaches and bottom-up, unit-specific initiatives. For example, training in servant leadership, initiatives to support interdisciplinary team-based care and expansion of our “Care for Colleagues” peer support program can improve the environment as a whole. Within-unit initiatives led by project leaders and/or “Wellness Partners” have more targeted impact.
In addition, though no one believes that providing free coffee, ice cream, sporting event tickets or massages can solve the broader problems affecting employee well-being, these small tokens of appreciation may be offered to employees as occasional “pick-me-ups” while we continue tackling the major issues affecting well-being within our institution and the field as a whole.
Efficiency of practice relates to aspects of the work environment that make it easier or harder for employees to complete their work. For example, Robert F. Donnell, M.D., UF Health chief medical information officer, and his team are working diligently on EPIC upgrades to minimize clinician burden and facilitate better care. Additionally, Michele Lossius, M.D., FAAP, UF Health Shands chief quality officer, and her team are continuing efforts to improve the quality, reliability and efficacy of policies, programs and equipment that have a direct impact on the ability to provide appropriate care. Targeted efforts are underway across various units, some of which were highlighted during this year’s UF Health Patient Safety and Quality Week events.
Finally, personal resilience results from having adequate time and resources to support self-care. The UF and UF Health Shands Human Resources teams — along with the UF and GatorCare Wellness teams — have introduced a variety of new benefits, services and programs to support employee well-being at the personal level. For example, they have improved access to mental health services through the EAPs and insurance benefits.
In addition, much of their programming has been expanded to allow online, asynchronous participation in order to improve access for employees in the clinical environment. Employee feedback from wellness surveys, program satisfaction surveys, focus groups and direct communication are used to adapt and expand programs to better meet employee needs. Many of these resources can be found on the GatorCare Wellness website.
Though virtually all would agree that the past few years have been particularly challenging and there are many issues affecting well-being of the health care workforce, UF Health and the UF College of Medicine are dedicated to continuous improvement in this area and look forward to finding more and better ways to support the well-being and professional fulfillment of our employees moving forward.
Merlo is a licensed clinical psychologist and currently serves as the director of Wellness Programs for the UF College of Medicine.