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Orientation 2022: Get to know our wellness champions in medical student education

Learning how to protect your well-being is an important part of training to become a physician. Get to know some of IU School of Medicine's wellness champions.

Emily Walvoord, MD, Associate Dean for Student Affairs

How she promotes wellness at IU School of Medicine:

I like to try to lead by example and "put my money where my mouth is." This means spending time and money to incorporate more wellness opportunities into the curriculum and co-curricular activities. We have greatly expanded our wellness work with the tremendous leadership from Kristen Heath and our Wellness Coalition. I also work with our terrific MSE curriculum team partners to make sure that opportunities for self-care and personal growth are built in to our curriculum.”

Why she thinks well-being programming is important and why she takes up this charge:Emily Walvoord, MD

Learning how to be a physician also means learning how to take care of yourself so that you can continue to grow and sustain yourself in this amazing, but challenging career. You are all individuals, not only "students," and learning what is meaningful to you and will keep you feeling well is critical; thus, we hope to expand your knowledge around wellness options. Finally, data has shown that "well" doctors have longer and more fulfilling careers and provide better care to their patients, so it is a win-win!

 Her favorite wellness tip and/or how she practices wellness:

My tip is to go easier on yourself. Most people in medicine are too hard on themselves and that serves very little purpose. Every day is a new day, and we wake up and try to do our best--whatever that looks like--for that day. I do not always succeed at that, but it remains a goal. I also think that a few minutes a day for a mindful meditation helps me to feel more grounded. And of course a good laugh goes a long ways!

Antwione Haywood, PhDAntwione Haywood, PhD, Assistant Dean for Medical Student Education

I try to role model self-care by staying active and eating the colors of the rainbow. I spread the love by teaching students about wellness and lifestyle approaches through FCP and Mind Body Medicine. Well-being programming is important because it helps reduce burnout, promote personal health and improve the overall work environment. We have to recharge ourselves in order to be effective healers. My favorite wellness tip is drink lots of water. Water is life. Make it fun by adding a squeeze of lemon or electrolytes.

 

Kristen Heath, MS, Lead Advisor & Statewide Wellness Coordinator

How she promotes wellness at IU School of Medicine:

As the Statewide Wellness Coordinator I get the pleasure of working with the Statewide Wellness Coalition to plan and implement amazing curricular and co-curricular events for students so that they can work on their wellness at convenient times and places. I love hearing what students want and bringing their ideas to life. I advocate for students at curricular meetings, staff and administrative meetings, and make myself widely available for all students who have wellness concerns. I love planning wellness curriculum for orientation, transitions courses and STEPS day (professional development days in the third year). I also help train other lead advisors, faculty and staff on ways to talk to medical trainees about their well-being. I teach Mental Health First Aid and am a huge proponent of destigmatizing mental health challenges. Additionally, I believe that we need to include social justice issues in our planning and consideration for each event and program as not everyone can feel 'well' if they do not feel safe, included or recognized.Kristen Heath, MS

Why she thinks well-being programming is important and/or why she takes up this charge:

While focusing on self-care and self-preservation should be a priority to every adult, it is especially important to those who take care of others.  Physicians and medical trainees are especially susceptible to burnout and mental health challenges. I believe that habits formed in medical school will follow you through your physicianhood. I want to help students develop healthy habits so that they can be the best caregivers possible.

Her favorite wellness tip and/or how she practices wellness:

Do I have to pick one???  Sleep?  Eat?  Exercise?  Get some fresh air?  Hahaha… Okay.  If I have to pick one, it would be to find something that truly 'restores' you and make it a priority, a non-negotiable. Make it a routine for yourself. If you can do it daily, then please do. If it is something that takes more time, then please try to do it weekly. I love to work out. I have to do it at least five days a week or I am a grumpy mommy and co-worker. When I work out, I sleep better. I think better. Moreover, I just feel better. However, I realize that exercise is not everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe you need to journal, call your mom, or have a coffee with your bestie. Whatever it is, make time for it. No one ever laid on their deathbed regretting doing these things.

 

Portrait of Joe WhitakerJoe Whitaker, MS3, VP of Wellness

How he promotes wellness at IU School of Medicine:
I am currently the President of the Wellness Coalition here at IU School of Medicine and I use my platform to advocate for changes to curriculum that can have a lasting impact on the lives of students here at IU. I work with the incredible wellness VPs to help think of and plan events that address each dimension of wellness, I work with regional campuses to help coordinate events for small campuses, and I work with the MSC committee to help address problems that might arise throughout the year which can affect the wellness of students.

Why he thinks well-being programming is important and/or why he takes up this charge:
Medicine is a demanding career and I think that while vacations and days off are great, the real key to avoiding burnout is sustainably incorporating wellness into your everyday life and that’s where well-being programming comes in. I want to help educate students about the tools and resources they have available to them that can help them to better enjoy their lives and their work as physicians.

His favorite wellness tip and/or how he practices wellness:
Habits define who we are. One technique that can help you build good habits is what James Clear wrote about in his book, Atomic Habits, called habit stacking. For example, let’s say you brush your teeth every day, but you want to be better about flossing. How can you stack those two together? Try setting your little box of floss in front of your toothbrush after you brush your teeth. That way, when you go to brush your teeth, a habit you already have, now you’re physically reminded to stack on that new habit: flossing!

 

Want to get involved? Check out information about wellness services at IU School of Medicine.

 

 

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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IU School of Medicine

With more than 60 academic departments and specialty divisions across nine campuses and strong clinical partnerships with Indiana’s most advanced hospitals and physician networks, Indiana University School of Medicine is continuously advancing its mission to prepare healers and transform health in Indiana and throughout the world.