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Healthcare Teams: An Antidote to Burnout

RFU teaches the art of caring in numerous ways, including practice with standardized patients, simulation-based training and interprofessional (IP) small team-learning, as a means to achieving better patient outcomes and as an antidote to burnout — which threatens the health of both our patients and our professionals. Our students are trained to lead the IP paradigm of practice within their professions and within systems that lag in patient-centric care and other innovations that help achieve the Quadruple Aim.

We are continuously improving our coursework and academic approach to foster a healthy learning environment that builds resilience and promotes wellness among our students and faculty. We give our students the opportunity to build a healthy lifestyle in myriad ways, including the teaching of skills for stress management, messaging aimed at destigmatizing mental illness and encouraging the use of our robust student counseling services.

RFU first-year students are engaging in a redesigned Foundations for Interprofessional Practice curriculum that focuses on lifestyle health care — reducing the risk factors that contribute to disease, promoting health and preventing chronic disease. We're teaching our students how to care for their own health through proper nutrition, sleep and exercise.

We are educating future health professionals who will feel good about the work that they do and find joy in their profession. As our nation struggles with a high burnout rate among many high-pressure occupations, including medicine, we're raising awareness of the need to recognize the early signs of burnout and we're sharing a powerful message that it's okay to reach out for help. We continue to focus on work/life balance at RFU and helping our students develop strategies for coping and maintaining balance that can be applied in the workplace.

Working in IP healthcare teams, we use the evidence-based framework TeamSTEPPS as a foundation for teaching team performance optimization in four core areas: leadership, situation monitoring, communication and mutual support, all skills that can help reduce student and faculty burnout.

Our model of interprofessional education teaches our students that the burden of care is a team effort. Shared responsibility helps protect against provider burnout and results in a better experience of care for both the patient and the team.

Today's students come to us with a strong understanding of their own personal challenges and how they might cope with their challenges, and that holds great promise for a future in which compassionate care by highly-skilled, empathetic professionals is the expectation and the norm.

Posted November 20, 2019
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