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Orientation 2021: Get to know our wellness champions in medical student education

Drs. Walvoord and Haywood, Kristen Heath and Mikayla Burrell

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 intersessions (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.

Mikayla Burrell, MS4Mikayla Burrell, MS4, VP of Wellness

How she promotes wellness at IU School of Medicine:

As the President of the Wellness Coalition for IU School of Medicine, I promote wellness through advocating on behalf of my peers and their various wellness needs. I make myself available as a listening ear to hear the concerns about the well-being of my peers and to be there for them in difficult times. I also do my best to expand everyone's understanding of wellness and encourage them to be excited about it (fun fact: it's not just about eating healthy meals and exercising).

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

I believe that it is incredibly difficult as future physicians to take care of others when we are unable to prioritize our own well-being. Wellness programming is important because it provides an avenue that eases the difficulties of prioritizing our own well-being.

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

I am an avid fan of journaling--especially gratitude journaling. I write down three things that brought me joy every day, which helps me to realign my values and perspective.

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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