Evidence-based course helps Ochsner physician leaders tackle wellness

Nigel Girgrah, MD, PhD, chief wellness officer of New Orleans-based Ochsner Health, understands the value of developing wellness programs to promote a healthy and productive workforce. 

Without a healthy and productive workforce, hospitals and health systems risk jeopardizing their care quality and financial picture, Dr. Girgrah told Becker's.

Burnout is often part of healthcare discussions around employees and their well-being. A 2021 cross-sectional survey published June 7 in JAMA found that improving care delivery, patient safety and nurse staffing are key issues nurses and physicians say management can take to improve burnout. Dr. Girgrah said wellness programs also play a part and help gauge employee engagement and how those clinicians are feeling.

Health systems are consistently seeking to address burnout through innovative approaches to clinician wellness.

At Ochsner, there is a new course for physicians, which is based on evidence unique to them. The two-hour, discussion-based course is facilitated by Dr. Girgrah and a colleague. It is based on a 2021 paper on wellness-centered leadership.

Dr. Girgrah said one element of the course is discussion about different styles of leadership and the evidence around it.

Discussion during the course also centers around genuinely caring about people always, he explained. 

Dr. Girgrah said participants also discuss developing one-on-one relationships, developing team relationships, and "being able to inspire change."

At the end of the course, there is a call to action that involves answering the question of: "What are the behaviors that you could improve on?"

Dr. Girgrah said Ochsner expects to prospectively survey physicians who report to leaders who've gone through the course to assess the value of it. 

"It's one thing to put our leaders through the course. But then if we survey their direct reports before and after, is there any sort of cause and effect of the course?" he added.

According to Ochsner's website, the organization has more than 37,000 employees and more than 4,700 employed and affiliated physicians.

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