How Sanford Health Keeps Doctors Healthy

Part of taking care of others is taking care of yourself.

Providing world-class life-saving medical care requires a lot of effort. Burnout is real among healthcare professionals.

That’s why, through programs like the Clinician Welfare Council and RISES, Sanford Health is leading the way in supporting physician wellness.

Keeping Clinicians Healthy

Brian Gutheridge, PhD, LP, is a licensed clinical psychologist at Sanford Health in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. He said the Clinical Wellbeing Council is a group of clinicians who are “passionate about expanding the concept of wellness in our facility and integrating wellbeing into all aspects.”

The Council has been in existence for two years.

“This came out of the recognition that there are high levels of burnout and mental health issues that affect physicians due to the unique demands of our work,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that it has become necessary to develop initiatives and programs to help our colleagues be healthy and healthy both at work and in their lives outside of work.”

Help at work

Jennifer Haggar, MD, is a pediatrician at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She said Sanford Health’s contribution to the overall well-being of physicians is clear.

“This is a real investment from Sanford. Obviously, the management decided to invest in it. When we are healthy and at our best, we can be the best members of our team. We can be the best clinicians for our patients.

“We’re not trying to pour from an empty cup,” Dr. Haggar said.

Support is offered at work, enterprise-wide, through the CWC, “getting together as a group in a supportive environment and discussing the stressors and challenges we face on a daily basis and speaking up for each other,” said Heather Spies, MD . OB/GYN and Medical Director of Clinical Experience at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls.

“We’re really trying to create an environment where it’s okay to not be okay sometimes, and figuring out how we can make you a better person? This is very important,” said Dr. Spice.

Help at home

Support is offered not only at work, but also when doctors finish work and go home.

“Sanford Health as an organization wants me to be able to focus on my family and have the resources to take care of all the things that I might not be able to spend time on,” Dr. Haggar said.

“A very random example,” recalls Dr. Haggar, “was when I needed someone to help me clean my house in the fall. I contacted the Vital WorkLife Concierge, a free resource for all Sanford Health doctors and staff. They gave me a bunch of people and quotes and I ended up hiring the company they recommended to me.

“This was the hour when I answered emails and helped take care of my pediatric residents or see patients, rather than calling around town to find out who can pick up my leaves. It was a service that Sanford provided and I felt very caring that they offered it.”

Medical Career Development

Dr. Haggar is a physician also participating in the RISES program.

Program means:

  • Achieve
  • Influence
  • Strategy
  • Empowerment
  • Serve

This is a three-year development and career development program offered simultaneously to 25 physicians. It is made up of physicians and best practice providers.

RISES is also completely free.

“By investing in our leaders and continuing to make sure we grow them as individuals and professionals, people have appreciated that,” Dr. Spice said.

Links between Sanford communities

Part of the beauty of RISES is that it’s a Sanford Health company-wide program.

Clinicians can delve into the minds of their colleagues, even if they are hundreds of miles apart.

“I like to call it adult learning,” said Director of Clinical Experience Aaste Campbell.

Such connections keep clinicians at Sanford, Dr. Haggar said.

“These programs have just confirmed why I belong in this place,” Dr. Haggar said.

To learn more

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