An Organization Model to Assist Individual Physicians, Scientists, and Senior Health Care Administrators With Personal and Professional Needs

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Abstract

Working as a physician, scientist, or senior health care administrator is a demanding career. Studies have demonstrated that burnout and other forms of distress are common among individuals in these professions, with potentially substantive personal and professional consequences. In addition to system-level interventions to promote well-being globally, health care organizations must provide robust support systems to assist individuals in distress. Here, we describe the 15-year experience of the Mayo Clinic Office of Staff Services (OSS) providing peer support to physicians, scientists, and senior administrators at one center. Resources for financial planning (retirement, tax services, college savings for children) and peer support to assist those experiencing distress are intentionally combined in the OSS to normalize the use of the Office and reduce the stigma associated with accessing peer support. The Office is heavily used, with approximately 75% of physicians, scientists, and senior administrators accessing the financial counseling and 5% to 7% accessing the peer support resources annually. Several critical structural characteristics of the OSS are specifically designed to minimize potential stigma and reduce barriers to seeking help. These aspects are described here with the hope that they may be informative to other medical practices considering how to create low-barrier access to help individuals deal with personal and professional challenges. We also detail the results of a recent pilot study designed to extend the activity of the OSS beyond the reactive provision of peer support to those seeking help by including regular, proactive check-ups for staff covering a range of topics intended to promote personal and professional well-being.

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