Hosting a four-hour volunteer training session the evening before a holiday weekend might seem like a losing proposition. On November 9, however, Keren Ziv, MD, chair of our Anesthesiology Wellness Committee, and Shevaughn Marchese, our department’s program manager, prevailed. They welcomed 24 of our department’s physicians, nurse anesthetists, and staff members to train as peer supporters in a pilot program that offers optional, confidential, and immediate support and information to colleagues suffering in the aftermath of adverse or difficult events.
Brenda Bursch, PhD, led the training in her role as Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, and a member of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
“I was very impressed with how engaged everyone was,” said Dr. Bursch, who asked participants why they were drawn to this work. “Each person had a story from their own experience, or of someone they knew. They recognized this was real and important.”
The pilot program is a component of the Employee Mental Wellness and Resilience Initiative, which emphasizes three core elements:
• “How are you feeling?”
• “What do you need?”
• “How can I help you?”
"The training gave us guidance and confidence,” said Dr. Ziv. “It helped us become better listeners.”
Dr. Bursch plans to provide an additional training session for those who would like more coaching. In addition, peer supporters will have monthly check-ins and debriefings where they can request additional coaching and resources.
“Until now, there hasn’t been someone trained to see how you are and to refer you to other resources if you need additional help,” says Ms. Marchese. “We have other procedures in place for safety and patient care. This is where we look at the physician as a human, an individual.”
To learn more the program, or about becoming a peer supporter, please contact Dr. Ziv, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ms. Marchese, email@example.com.