Helping Physicians Thrive – at Spectrum and in Life

National Doctors’ Day is celebrated on March 30 — but Spectrum Healthcare Partners makes it a priority to support and celebrate both new and veteran physicians all year long. We do this through several programs:

• A standardized orientation program
• The MENTORme physician mentor program
• Company-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion education (DEI)
• A peer support program
Resilience coaching

All of these spokes on the wheel of physician wellness help to keep clinical staff at Spectrum rolling along — hopefully minimizing the inevitable bumps in the road — as they navigate the many challenges of the modern healthcare system, plus personal and societal changes and stressors. Since 2018, Spectrum’s multidisciplinary Physician Resilience & Well-Being Committee has overseen these programs, some of which emerged in response to a company-wide physician engagement survey. (Other programs existed prior to the survey or have been implemented more recently.)

“We began by examining the categories that we scored highest and lowest in,” explains Olga Diomede, MD, MS, regarding the 2018 survey and the resulting committee. Diomede is a Spectrum obstetric anesthesiologist who serves as her division’s representative on the committee. She continues, “We then discussed what those results meant to us as an organization and how we could improve.”

To identify meaningful and appropriate interventions, the multidisciplinary committee includes physicians from all specialty areas as well as administrators and expert consultants. They focus on physician well-being, resiliency, self-care, and professional satisfaction, and believe that the most exceptional patient care is delivered with a stronger core.

Success Begins with Onboarding

Organizations with standard onboarding boast a 62 percent increased productivity rate and a 50 percent greater retention rate among new hires. These statistics are important since 90 percent of employees decide whether to stay or go within the first six months of employment.

In 2019, Spectrum added an overview of the resilience & well-being programs, initiatives, and resources to the physicians’ first day orientation. Yet, as Dr. Diomede notes, “For new staff, it’s clear that the onboarding process doesn’t just end after the first couple weeks of orientation.”

With the goal in mind of improving new physicians’ acclimation to Spectrum, our Southern Radiology division and the Physician Resilience and Well-Being Committee saw a way to strengthen the orientation and onboarding experience.

A pilot program was developed to include committee members, human resources, and department/site chairs. The program included ensuring connections were made with incoming physicians prior to their start date. Once the initial orientation process was completed, members of the onboarding team continued to have regular checkpoints with the new physician at 30, 60, and 90 days as well as further out.

“The goals of the onboarding program are to welcome new physicians to our team and cultivate an environment they feel empowered in,” says Julie Wheeler, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, chief human resources officer at Spectrum Healthcare Partners. “The program provides the opportunity for our new physicians to actively participate in their integration and assimilation and we can learn where there might be opportunities for improvement in our process. I am thrilled with the participation we have seen and cannot wait to see how engagement and retention improves.”

MENTORme: Developing Meaningful Connections and Future Leaders

In 2015, Spectrum piloted a program developed to support the onboarding and integration of new physicians joining its Orthopaedics division. Over the next few years, the program was updated and adapted to support physicians across all disciplines, with the new MENTORme program rolled out to all Spectrum divisions in 2020, amidst the heightened and unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a mentor program in place, new physicians are more intentionally supported as they learn the culture, create meaningful personal connections, and focus on their specialty areas.

When a mentor shares knowledge, expertise, and experience, it is more than the mentee who benefits. The MENTORme program also helps develop future leaders who understand the skills and competencies required for success within the organization — thereby strengthening Spectrum’s ability to offer the best patient care possible across many interconnected disciplines.

DEI: Fostering a Culture of Respect and Belonging

“Creating a workplace environment that encourages respect and belonging, increases inclusivity, and promotes open-mindedness to differing opinions and identities is beneficial to all who work at Spectrum. It also helps Spectrum providers and staff improve interactions with patients,” says Gail Allen, PHR, SHRM-CP, senior human resources manager at Spectrum Healthcare Partners.

Spectrum incorporates Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) educational sessions into the corporate compliance program and its leadership development program. Sessions are focused on understanding bias and prejudice and leading in a culture of belonging. The goal is to provide practical guidance on creating and supporting a more respectful, inclusive work environment where individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences can show up as their authentic selves and work to their maximum potential.

Peer Support Program Strives to Reduce Isolation

In 2019, Spectrum launched a Peer Support Program to support our physicians when they are faced with difficult and adverse events — just in time for the global healthcare crisis nobody knew was looming on the horizon. Over a dozen Spectrum physicians from all disciplines were trained to be peer supporters, and we also engaged with outside resources to support physicians in need of additional support.

Yet even without a pandemic, all physicians experience difficult events at some point, whether work-related or intensely personal. Perhaps partly as a result of physicians being more used to the roles of caregiver and problem-solver, or the regularity of stress as a normal part of the job, research shows physicians generally do not acknowledge or openly discuss their personal reactions to the most stressful events they face.

If not attended to, however, the emotional reactions of self-doubt, depression, rumination, anxiety, and a sense of isolation can lead to burnout and further distress. Studies have shown that talking to a trained peer facilitates coping and resilience after an adverse event.

Spectrum physicians can self-refer to the Peer Support Program and can also refer their coworkers who are struggling. Additionally, this program has the goal of reaching out to every physician who experiences a difficult event, as a matter of routine. Regardless of the avenue of contact, peer supporters maintain strict confidentiality.

Remarked one physician anonymously, “Just having someone neutral check in specifically about my well-being was comforting. I felt incredibly supported and it was nice that there were not secondary motives behind the support (i.e. data gathering about the incident, etc.).”

Resilience Coaching

In 2017, Spectrum launched a resilience coaching program. Our resilience coaching was formally made available to all Spectrum physicians after a one-year pilot program received overwhelmingly positive feedback from its participants.

Burnout is real in the healthcare field, and it is widespread. By collaborating with a resilience coach, physicians can shift from burnout and its consequences to a paradigm of self-care and self-efficacy, applied directly to the physician’s personal work and life circumstances, with sustainable benefits. Participants have identified the following primary beneficial results:

• Reduced stress and increased resilience
• Increased meaning and purpose in work
• Identified strengths and how to leverage them
• Collaborated more effectively with colleagues and management
• Better time and task management
• Improved self-care

How do participants access these benefits? Resilience coaching is a confidential self-referral program focused on well-being. Physicians receive six 60-minute confidential coaching sessions over the course of three months from a professionally certified coach. The first session, which is in-person, is focused on creating the coach-to-physician relationship, assessing strengths, and setting client-centered goals. The five remaining sessions are focused on topics and tools the physician can use, based on the first session’s plan, and are conducted by phone.

“Coaching helped me to achieve a laser focus on what elements of my work are most meaningful, and gave me the confidence to set different priorities and make different choices in my work,” commented one anonymous physician who received resilience coaching.

Results and Recognition

As a physician owned and led group, Spectrum can focus on issues that are important to physicians. The pressures of practicing at Spectrum are not unique to us, but our solutions are.

Correspondingly, Spectrum physicians report an increased sense of camaraderie and belonging at Spectrum. They also enjoy a better understanding of the inner workings and challenges of Spectrum’s various specialty divisions, which reduces the perception that other physicians in the organization do not share certain experiences.

Our efforts and results have not gone unnoticed. In 2023, Spectrum Healthcare Partners was designated by the American Medical Association (AMA) as a Joy in Medicine™ Recognized Organization for a second time (the first time was in 2021). To receive this prestigious, national recognition, organizations must meet intensive requirements that show they address work-related stress and burnout while supporting the overall well-being of clinical care team members.

The Physician Resilience and Well-Being Committee will continue to guide the work of Spectrum Healthcare Partners, especially as we welcome new, talented physicians to our team who will continue to contribute to our highest standard of patient care. We seek to help our physicians meet whatever new challenges may come their way, through continually reassessing and adapting our support programming and infrastructure.

“This is about bringing people together to talk about what we can do collectively to make our colleagues’ lives better,” says Matthew Parsons, MD, Spectrum radiation oncologist and chair of the committee. “Whether it’s clinical, or helping people navigate in a new community they’ve moved to, somebody will hear and listen to you.”

You can read more about our physician resilience and well-being programs here.


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