The Wright Center Addresses Workplace Wellness

Meaghan Ruddy, Ph.D., senior vice president of Academic Affairs, Enterprise Assessment and Advancement, and chief research and development officer, recently participated in the panel discussion, “Fostering Workplace Wellness through the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond,” for members of the health care community.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) webinar featured a panel discussion with health center staff from throughout the country describing specific strategies they use to foster workplace wellness.

Topics addressed by panelists during the 90-minutes of presentations included burnout, compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress and moral injury. Employees in a 2018 Gallup poll identified five organizational factors of burnout: unfair treatment at work, unmanageable workload, lack of role clarity, lack of communication and support from their manager, and unreasonable time pressure.

Ruddy participated in the panel discussion, “Fostering Workplace Wellness – Strategies and Recommendations from Health Center Management,” by panelists from San Diego, California; and College Station, Texas. Each panelist addressed a question posed to them by the panel facilitator. Ruddy was asked to discuss how two newly created positions within The Wright Center enterprise have helped to address employee wellness and burnout. Those new positions are a wellness and resilience specialist and a director of health humanities.

“Resilience can be a challenging topic when we’re talking about burnout because numbness and exhaustion basically are signs of chronic neurological overwhelm. A lot of ideas that are very well-intended can bounce off and seem kind of challenging or unintentionally even weaponized as we look at people who seem to have a failure of resilience as having some sort of character flaw,” Ruddy said. “Staff help is vital to operational excellence, but these expectations have to be metered by the reality of what it means to be a human in these environments. Our wellness and resiliency specialist, as well as our director of health humanities, work together to create and implement reflection and programming to address clinical learning environment challenges.”

The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education are working towards becoming certified as a Sanctuary Model organization, an evidence-supported template for promoting safety and recovery from chronic stress and adversity by teaching trauma-informed approaches to organizational development. The Sanctuary Model recognizes that just as people are susceptible to adversity, organizations themselves are equally as vulnerable.

At its core, the Sanctuary Model is based on an understanding of trauma and how it affects individuals as well as whole organizations and systems.

According to Ruddy, the pandemic has exacerbated trauma in the health care workforce. The ripples of this trauma continue to impact the ability of “amazing and compassionate” individuals to show up as their best selves. The Wright Center is investing in the model for the betterment of the workforce and the people and communities the enterprise serves.