1380. Creating Your Own Wellness Program

Authors: Gary Robert Simonds, MD, FAANS; Gary Simonds; Chris Busch; Michael Benko; Brian Saway; Brendan Klein; Wayne Sotile, PhD (Black Mountain, NC)

Introduction: Recognition of the detrimental effects of burnout and emotional distress has thankfully become more widespread. Most now recognize that it can not only decrement the happiness of neurosurgeons, it may negatively impact their ability to render quality care, as well as their overall careers. The question is, how can a neurosurgical department or practice seek to mitigate the effects of the well accepted stressors of the discipline? Methods: For the last 5 years our neurosurgery team has worked with renown expert in physician wellness, Wayne Sotile PhD. We have explored scores of professional stressors, and scores of methods to help build provider resilience. We have run multiple studies on well-established strategies for resilience building and have designed dozens of our own. Team members have routinely been interviewed and surveyed reference the ideal methodologies and their impact. Results: Assay after assay and overall institutional response has demonstrated significant improvement in the neurosurgery team’s performance and emotional set point. Through tracking the most efficacious and popular resilience building methodologies and strategies, we have constructed a proposed program that could be employed by most neurosurgical programs and practices. Critical to the program is leadership buy-in and persistent engagement. Methodologies include: the employment and exploration of personality and resilience assays, frequent debriefing of stressful experiences, administrative attention to systemic inefficiencies, identification of key stressors, focus on emotional intelligence, ownership of part of the interpersonal problems, employment of positive psychology, short and prolonged breaks in the action, exercise regimens, good nutrition and hydration, focused-discussions, role-playing exercises of flash-point and stressful entities, and more. Conclusion: We offer a contained framework for any and all programs and practices to address the emotional challenges of the modern day practice of neurosurgery. The time investment is limited, the costs are very low, the potential benefit is immeasurable.