Upstate Medical dedicated to doctor health

April 15, 2022

Upstate Medical University is taking another step forward in its commitment to physician well-being by signing onto a new charter created by the Collaborative for Health and Renewal in Medicine (CHARM).

Leslie Kohman, MD, Upstate’s chief wellness officer, said CHARM is a collaboration of medical educators, leaders in academic medicine, and experts in burnout research and intervention working together to promote well-being among trainees and practicing physicians. The charter project is supported by a grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Upstate joins more than 60 healthcare organizations and associations across the country that have committed to adopt the CHARM Charter principles, which are:

• Patient care: Effective patient care promotes and requires physician well-being.

• Well-being of all: Physician well-being is related with the well-being of all members of the healthcare team.

• High-value care: Physician well-being is a quality marker.

• Shared responsibility: Physician well-being requires collaboration between individual physicians and their organizations.

Some other organizations that have also adopted CHARM include the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Kohman, who was named chief wellness officer in 2020, said signing onto the charter will have several benefits.

“I think No. 1 it helps the general Upstate community to understand that we acknowledge these problems and are dedicated to doing what we can,” she said. “I also hope it will stimulate more resources to be applied to the effort. Physician wellness leads to team wellness which leads to quality of care. Your quality will go down if your well-being is down.”

Kohman said Upstate began the discussion of the importance of physician wellness in 2017 and identified four objectives toward that end.

The four objectives were to get voice recognition software to make entering medical records faster and simpler, to appoint a chief wellness officer, to get a product by which to measure wellness, and to get collaboration space for medical staff. She said all four objectives were met in 2020.

In October, Upstate earned a Joy in Medicine Bronze Award from the American Medical Association for this commitment.

“We are being recognized for what we are working on, not only what we have achieved,” Kohman said. “It’s aspirational and it is recognizing that outcomes in this field are extremely difficult to measure, so that process and effort are really important.”

Kohman said the need for physician wellness was high before the pandemic, but now attention to it, as well as that of nurses, is more important than ever. There are currently 1,094 physicians on staff at Upstate.

“It was already extremely important because burn out rates were already very high, but now it’s just absolutely more vital,” she said. “We know that making physician wellness a focus will bring everybody else up, but there are enormous needs among nursing staff now as result of this pandemic, which has just made everything exceedingly harder.”

She added that diversity and inclusion are an integral part of Upstate’s commitment to wellness.

“Wellness and diversity and inclusion go hand in hand,” she said. “Quality is the other leg of that stool. You have to have all three. So, belonging, diversity and inclusion plus quality plus well-being leads to good patient care and happy satisfied people who experience the joy in medicine at least some days when they come to work. Nobody can have it every day.”

 Upstate Medical University release