Health care worker burnout has reached epidemic proportions during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation released a survey of 1,327 front-line health care workers (HCW) in the United States that reported 55 percent of them are mentally and physically exhausted from chronic workplace stress, with 62 percent of them reporting some mental health repercussions.
Even prior to the COVID pandemic, those working in the health-care field were found to be more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and job dissatisfaction, which can lead to adverse outcomes for healthcare workers as well as the patients and communities they serve. Some experts increasingly regard suicide as an “occupational hazard” of practicing medicine or nursing.
But evidence shows that effective wellness programming and strong institutional leadership committed to a culture of wellness care can make a difference. With the support of Barbara Bass, MD, RESD ’86, vice president for health affairs, dean of the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), and chief executive officer of the GW Medical Faculty Associates (GW MFA), we recently transitioned the GW GWell Center for Health Care Professionals to the GW Resiliency & Well-being Center (R&W Center).
The R&W Center takes an evidence-based whole person health approach in the services it provides to the GW medical enterprise—SMHS, GW MFA, and the GW Hospital. As defined by the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “whole person health involves looking at the whole person, not just separate organs or body systems, and considering multiple factors that promote either health or disease. It means helping and empowering individuals, families, communities, and populations to improve their health in multiple interconnected biological, behavioral, social, and environmental areas. Instead of treating a specific disease, whole person health focuses on restoring health, promoting resilience, and preventing diseases across a lifespan.”
R&W Center Director Lorenzo Norris, MD, Chief Wellness Officer for the GW medical enterprise, hopes to give our community the tools, education, and resilience needed to combat burnout and remain engaged for the sake of ourselves, our families and loved ones, and our patients. A psychiatrist at the MFA, Dr. Norris is also associate dean for student affairs and administration and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at SMHS.
Leigh Frame, PhD, MHS, CERT ’20, is taking on a new role as the R&W Center’s associate director. She currently serves as the director of the Integrative Medicine Programs, executive director of the GW Office of Integrative Medicine and Health (OIMH), and assistant professor of clinical research and leadership here at GW.
Viktoriya Karacheyeva, MD, MS, NCC, LCPC-SP, LCADAS, recently joined the R&W Center as the behavioral services director. She is responsible for planning and implementing programs, developing and coordinating services, activities, and offerings to meet the social and emotional needs of trainees, faculty, staff, and their families. Karacheyeva has been in clinical practice for two decades with a mission of providing evidence-based therapeutic approaches to address complex life challenges and transitions, including addiction and trauma. She received her MD degree from Dnipropetrovsk National Medical Academy in Ukraine with a focus in psychiatry but does not practice in the U.S.
In their new roles, R&W Center leadership are restructuring the SMHS’ wellness initiatives from top to bottom to help all providers, health sciences workers, trainees, and staff achieve and facilitate their ability to live their best, most fulfilling life. With the help of an advisory board composed of GW medical enterprise leaders, they are forming the center’s mission and prioritizing its most effective wellness services.
Ashley Drapeau, PA-C, LAc, recently joined the R&W Center. She has been a board-certified Physician Assistant (PA) for 10 years and has practiced in multiple focal areas in the private sector, including bariatric surgery, family medicine, and urgent care. As an officer in the U.S. Air Force, PA Drapeau received specialty training in occupational health, trauma, and behavioral health. She holds a master’s degree in Acupuncture from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Acupuncture and Eastern Medicine.
The R&W Center team also includes support staff. The team will provide clinical services and accompanying educational offerings to the GW medical enterprise. Dr. Frame will lead the development of new lectures, webinars, workshops, and masterclasses as well as scholarship, research projects, and sponsored positions for trainees. The R&W Center team and its offerings will continue to develop through an iterative process of evaluation, implementation, and reevaluation to best serve the GW community now and as it evolves over time.
Request a consultation from the Resiliency & Well-being Center so we can meet with your team, discuss your needs, and give you a summary of the services we have available to meet them.