New Funding from AMA to Support Well-Being Projects

Clinical leaders at UNC Health Care and UNC School of Medicine have secured American Medical Association (AMA) funding that will assist with Well-Being projects and help improve work life for residents, providers and co-workers.

Family Anesthesia Experience

Susan Martinelli, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology will receive more than $50,000 to evaluate the Family Anesthesia Experience (FAX) program through a multi institutional study,  thanks to the support of the AMA Joy in Medicine Practice Transformation Initiative.


Martinelli and her colleagues began FAX in an effort to help improve communication and relationships between residents and their support persons (family and friends), in order to increase wellness and decrease burnout.


Martinelli says that the UNC FAX program has been a resource for residents, helping family and friends better understand what anesthesiologists do and what anesthesiology residency entails.


During the FAX event, Martinelli says resident supporters get really involved. “There is a simulation component during which the residents teach their support persons how to perform airway management, faculty teach residents and support persons procedures such as central line placement, nerve blocks, and epidural placement, and the residents and their support persons watch a high fidelity simulation of a preoperative assessment, induction of anesthesia, and an intraoperative code with resolution. We have some brief didactics on wellness, burnout, substance abuse, financial wellness and what resources we have available,” she said.


“We have had very positive feedback from the event in our institution. I had one resident this year tell me that her quality of life improved greatly because now her loved ones understand why she still had to study when she came home from work and why she couldn't answer her phone during the day. It is difficult for people outside of medicine to understand residency training. This is a way that we can give residents' support persons insight into our trainees lives,” she said.


Joy In Practice


Lynne Fiscus, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, UNC Physicians Network,  also a recent AMA awardee, is actively working to help improve well-being by addressing physician burnout through implementing a variety of interventions. Her team is focused on improving EPIC Electronic Health Record Inbasket Flow and building relationships to recapture joy in practice. “Electronic Health Record (EHR) Inbasket work is commonly identified by clinicians as a source of frustration; important messages are missed amidst a myriad of routine communications. This [AMA] project seeks to build on existing pilots to study an approach that starts with enhancing relationships and trust to allow additional delegation of work in the inbasket and enhance joy,” she said.


To date, Fiscus says her team has administered pilots at five clinics, approaching inbasket management that focuses on relationships between clinicians and staff members, implementation of communication tools, and collaboration between front desk staff, clinical staff, and clinicians to co-develop standards for inbasket work. The pilot clinics found marked reductions in numbers of messages routed to the primary care providers and reduced the time clinicians spent after hours in EPIC by 20% in most of the pilot clinics.  “This project both seeks to improve the workload of clinicians through empowering team members to work to the top of licensure in the inbasket as well as improving the work environment through improving relationships between care team members that further paves the way for enhanced collaboration,” she said.   Other grant awardees include: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin Health, and Southern California Permanente Medical Group.


Integrated Well-Being Program


Well-being has been a top strategic priority at UNC Health Care since 2018 with the launch of the integrated Well-Being program, and has also been a topic of discussion nationally. In support of physician and co-worker well-being system-wide, the Well-Being program has produced several pilot programs and interventions aimed at decreasing burnout and improving work-life. The integrated Well-Being program was recently recognized as a Silver Level of Excellence by the AMA’s Joy in Medicine recognition program based on achievements in the areas of: commitment, assessment, leadership, efficiency of practice environment, teamwork and support. “The UNC System-Wide Well Being Team is so pleased to have received this recognition by the AMA of our work to support the Well-Being of our physicians.  Our approach is focused on improving the work-life of all members of the UNC Health Care organization and supporting a culture that embraces the Quadruple Aim,” said Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, executive medical director of UNC Well-Being program. The award was formally announced at the American Conference on Physician Health in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sept. 21, 2019.

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