The Physicians Foundation awarded a grant to the Mount Sinai Physician Wellness Program (PWP) to support system-level and individual-level wellness initiatives. Dr. Lauren Peccoralo, associate dean for faculty well-being and resilience for the Mount Sinai Health System, shares Mount Sinai’s long-term vision for the Program and how they are further prioritizing provider wellness across divisions.

Q. What is the Mount Sinai Physician Wellness Program and what is its purpose?

The Mount Sinai Physician Wellness Program (PWP) is an initiative sponsored by the Physicians Foundation and developed by Drs. Lauren Peccoralo and Jonathan Ripp, both leaders for provider wellness throughout the Mount Sinai Health System. (Of note, Dr. Peccoralo was appointed as the Associate Dean for Faculty Well-Being and Resilience for MSHS in part due to her work on this project, and Dr. Ripp was appointed as Senior Associate Dean for Well-Being and Resilience as well).

Since the program’s start in August 2017, the overarching goal has been to establish a sustainable PWP infrastructure capable of replication across many divisions and departments, as well as to guide the development and implementation of physician wellness initiatives. This program takes place under Mount Sinai’s Department of Medicine (DOM).

Q. How is the program curriculum designed to implement physician wellness initiatives? Please share a few examples.

To date, we have worked to create physician wellness initiatives both within the Division of General Internal Medicine (DGIM) and in other divisions under the Department of Medicine, including the Division of Pulmonary Medicine, the Division of Nephrology, the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Division of Hospital Medicine.

Through a competitive funding process, Dr. Peccoralo and a committee of faculty leaders selected Wellness Champions from the above divisions to replicate a PWP. Currently, Dr. Peccoralo is working with these Wellness Champions to develop and implement wellness initiatives in their respective divisions. The Wellness Champions and Dr. Peccoralo plan to attend a physician health and wellness conference in October, funded by the grant. In addition, the Wellness Champions have been tasked to create and distribute needs-assessment surveys and to form small wellness committees within their divisions.

As for the Division of General Internal Medicine, we have greatly expanded on physician wellness efforts, implementing both system-level and individual-level initiatives. For our system-level approach, we began with a site visit from physician wellness consultants along with the distribution of a survey to assess provider wellness, work environment, physician satisfaction, burnout and depression among providers in DGIM. Our system-level interventions thus far include the restructuring of the evening clinic, adding printers to all exam rooms and placing a wellness representative on the practice redesign committee. Our most recent system-level endeavor was the creation of a robust mentorship program that pairs senior faculty with junior faculty for assistance with career development and promotion. For our individual-level initiatives, we have instituted biannual divisional Grand Rounds centered on provider wellness and narrative medicine / reflection. We’ve additionally established quarterly wellness educator sessions that focus on skill-building exercises to promote well-being, resilience and the development of a mentorship plan to bolster faculty career development.

We are in the process of analyzing the results of the survey and plan on redistributing the survey once more later this year to reassess wellness among providers in DGIM.

Q. What criteria are considered in order to participate in the program?

In order to participate, one must be a clinical patient care provider (MD or NP) in one of the five divisions selected to participate in the PWP initiative at the Mount Sinai Health System.  The divisions included are General Medicine, Infectious Disease, Hospital Medicine, Nephrology and Pulmonology.

Q. What is your long-term vision for the program?

Since the inception of this program, the long-term vision has been to replicate this model of departmental Wellness Champions across divisions. Drs. Ripp and Peccoralo, through the new Dean’s Office of Well-being and Resilience, are in the process of rolling the program out across the institution. We have already appointed wellness champions in about 20 departments and are in the process of designing a wellness structure for the largest department – the Department of Medicine. This structure will build off our grant-funded project.

This, too, comes at a time when Mount Sinai as an institution is further prioritizing provider wellness and the creation of a work culture that minimizes provider burnout and optimizes well-being.

Q. How has the grant from the Physicians Foundation helped support the Mount Sinai Physician Wellness Program?

Mount Sinai’s PWP would not be possible without the support from the Physicians Foundation. For example, this funding made possible the visit from the consultants from SGIM, who were able to provide a bird’s eye view of the challenges preventing well-being in our division. We were able to fund a significant increase in available faculty wellness programming and the expansion of our framework to other divisions within the Department of Medicine. The grant has supported training for the wellness champions and incentives for survey completion.

We look forward to continuing our efforts on behalf of the Physicians Foundation until the conclusion of this project in August 2019. We are grateful for this opportunity and send our appreciation to the Foundation.