Aug. 2, 2023 — One year after the UF College of Medicine launched the Well-Being Index, a tool designed to help residents, fellows and program leaders better understand the stressors associated with residency training and improve management of mental health needs, the college has gathered data on what trainees have identified as strengths of their programs, as well as areas where improvements can be made.
The College of Medicine made access to the short, confidential questionnaire and associated resources available last July, piloting it with trainees as a project under the people pillar of the college’s strategic plan. With the tool now open to physician faculty, the college’s goal is to collect as many responses as possible to guide the development of the most beneficial approaches to improve well-being for the college community.
“This is a quick and easy way to connect to our trainees, and now our physicians,” said Lisa Merlo, Ph.D., M.P.E., a professor in the department of psychiatry and director of wellness programs at the College of Medicine. “It also gives feedback back to me, so I can see anonymously at the aggregate level if there are specific programs, departments or divisions that can use additional guidance, and to do a deeper dive and figure out if we can provide them with any additional resources or education. This can also help us determine what systemic changes can be made to improve environments.”
The web-based tool, developed specifically for health care professionals and based on research from the Mayo Clinic, allows programs across the college to gather anonymized data that can be used to address specific areas of concern regarding the well-being of trainees and physician-faculty. This approach promotes precision wellness, which involves a comprehensive account of the biological, lifestyle and environmental factors that impact a person’s health and well-being.
Strengths and opportunities for growth
Merlo recently began combing through the data accumulated from the Well-Being Index over the past year and has identified common themes in the more than 600 unique responses from trainees. She and other leadership including residency program directors and department chairs are able to view the anonymized responses.
UF’s medical residents and fellows generally feel supported by their program leadership, the results show. The trainees are also pleased with the professional growth and learning opportunities available to them and enjoy participating in social activities with their department colleagues.
Merlo said some areas that respondents have identified as possible areas for improvement include better access to food and parking, greater access to timely visits with a primary care provider and more job performance feedback from the attending physicians, nurses and other hospital workers with whom trainees interact. She said the college is currently working to address these and other concerns.
“Something we’re actively working on now with the department of community health and family medicine is to see if we can figure out a way to match all of the incoming residents with a primary care provider to ensure they can get an appointment, and looking at other ways that we can facilitate them accessing care, despite their busy residency schedules,” Merlo said.
Questionnaire now available to physician faculty
Merlo encourages physician faculty, who have had access to the questionnaire since May, to provide responses that can help lead to further improvements at the College of Medicine.
The Well-Being Index takes about a minute to sign up and another minute to complete. Trainees and physician faculty previously received a link to the Well-Being Index in their UF email inbox from both Merlo and their department chair. Additionally, digital screens and posters across the academic health center have a QR code linking directly to the questionnaire.
“It’s a valuable tool not only for the individual to access their own scores and resources, but also to provide us with information that we can use for planning going forward,” Merlo said. “It will allow us to see the impact of the interventions we’re implementing over time. For example, we’re trying to work hard right now on making improvements to EPIC systems efficiency. Being able to use these data to see whether those interventions actually have an impact on physician well-being will be important to help justify those programs continuing.”