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New podcast pushes for healthcare professionals’ mental health

Three healthcare professionals stand in a hallway talking to one another.
A new podcast created by faculty at the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine explores how physicians and other healthcare professionals can maintain their physical and mental health.

A new podcast created by faculty at the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine explores how physicians and other healthcare professionals can maintain their physical and mental health. 

“Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Wellness and Resiliency” features doctors, nurses, medical students from the WSU College of Medicine, and other health care professionals as they dive into the challenges they face and how they manage practicing wellness in their careers.

Facing a health care landscape that was overwhelmed by provider shortages and access to care before the virus hit, physicians have navigated every critical stage of the pandemic while trying to maintain their own mental and physical health.

Faculty at the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine recognized flagging physician mental health and decided to act. 

“We are doing an awesome job training students to meet the needs of patients, but we also wanted to reach an audience of college preceptors and alumni with messages about taking care of themselves as well as their patients,” said Dr. Barbara Richardson, former professor in the WSU College of Medicine, who spearheaded the podcast project. “What better way to do this than to spotlight some of the health care providers in Washington that are doing great things to care for themselves and those they work with on a daily basis?” 

'Finding Joy' podcast.

Dr. Richardson collaborated with colleague Dr. Dawn DeWitt and the WSU Health Sciences Interprofessional Team-based Opioid Education program to voice these challenges and share ideas for resources and solutions.

Together, they launched the podcast to help physicians take a pause to focus on their wellness and increase their self-compassion, which is key to avoiding burnout.

“The principal of mindful compassion is to treat yourself the way you would a good friend,” said Dr. DeWitt. “As doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, you are taught to push yourself above and beyond.” 

Dr. DeWitt notes that while finding the balance can be difficult, acknowledging feelings and learning techniques to deal with stress is important in helping health care professionals prevent burnout, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a huge impact on health care provider and nursing shortages. 

“If you get sick with COVID, you’re out for two weeks,” said Dr. DeWitt. “Every single health care professional who gets depressed, tests positive for COVID, and who can’t take care of themselves from something else is out of the workforce.” She added, “From a systems point of view, it’s even more critical we take care of ourselves and each other.”

Resources like the “Finding Joy” podcast enable physicians to build awareness and help each other rediscover joy in the workplace. From topics ranging from being present to overcoming perfectionism, the hope is that these resources allow physicians to feel less alone.

“For me, the podcasts give me a chance to share with people everything from learning how to meditate to how to use other devices, all of which are intended to help restore balance and reduce burnout through learning better systems of self-care,” said Dr. DeWitt. “As a society, social connectedness is what keeps us going and that’s ultimately what we’re aiming for in little ways, in big ways or however we can.” 

Listen to recent episodes online.

If you or someone in your professional circle has a story to share, reach out to the team at medicine.ipoc@wsu.edu.

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