Carol Bradford

News & Research

Promoting Civility and Wellness at Michigan Medicine

Fall 2018
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At Michigan Medicine, we excel at taking care of others. 

Our physicians, nurses, learners, and staff provide compassionate, patient-centered care. Our investigators and research teams handle human subjects with great sensitivity and painstakingly follow research protocols. Our educators selflessly pass along their extensive knowledge while mentoring the next generation of physicians and scientists. 

But do we take care of each other and ourselves? 

Caregivers often give more of themselves — both in mind and body — to ensure the well-being of their patients. For our research community, the search for funding, submission requirements, and deadlines are never-ending. Among our teachers, the rollout of our new medical student curriculum requires more commitment than ever. Learners face exams and evaluations that test their progress as they absorb tremendous amounts of information and gain experience. 

These pressures can bring stress, forge uncomfortable workplaces, and cause friction in relationships. In a recent Medical School faculty survey, 40 percent of respondents reported experiencing feelings of burnout. They cited several stressors, including an overabundance of email, pressure to meet work expectations, inadequate compensation, too many work hours, and insufficient time for meaningful activities. 

At Michigan Medicine, we are looking closely at how the organization promotes health, balance, and kindness. We recently launched the Michigan Medicine Wellness and Civility Task Force to identify opportunities to prevent and protect against burnout and improve the workplace environment. Members from across Michigan Medicine focused on: a holistic, robust approach to addressing concerns; an expectation of civility from all members of our workforce; improved communication, trust, and accountability; and assurances that all members of the community — employees, patients and families, learners, faculty — know they have a voice and feel valued. 

The Michigan Medicine Wellness and Civility Task Force advanced several recommendations, including: 

» Establishing a Michigan Medicine Wellness Office that will partner with institutional stakeholders to develop, implement, and track a strategic wellness plan; 

» Assessing administrative burden for health care professionals — particularly as it relates to electronic health records — and developing and implementing strategies to lessen or remove this burden in order to improve provider efficiency and satisfaction among health care professionals; 

» Incorporating wellness check-ins into mid-year and annual evaluations for faculty, staff, and learners to enable leaders to address any challenges that may arise; 

» Promoting a skill-building curriculum to increase awareness and equip our workforce with the skills necessary to engage in healthy interpersonal relationships; 

» Developing and implementing an enterprise-wide holistic recognition program for faculty, staff, and learners to improve workplace satisfaction and promote greater engagement. 

These are the first steps in bringing a renewed sense of civility and wellness to Michigan Medicine. We aspire to realize a vibrant and inclusive community where people feel valued and can thrive. When successful, our organization will become more unified and positive in its pursuit of our tripartite mission of clinical care, education, and research. 

As this initiative grows, there is something we all can do to improve civility and wellness around us: Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other. 

Carol R. Bradford (M.D. 1986, Fellowship 1988, Residency 1992) 
Charles J. Krause, M.D., Collegiate Professor of Otolaryngology 
Executive Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, Medical School