Duke Anesthesiology Wellness Connection

To educate, empower and provide resources to house staff and faculty to cultivate empathy, job satisfaction, work-personal life balance and individual well-being. Just as we advise our patients to adopt healthy behaviors, we aim to enable our community members to embody a healthy lifestyle.

Your Wellness Toolkit:

Duke's LIVE FOR LIFE Calendar of Events

This calendar of events lists some of the upcoming LIVE FOR LIFE events that Duke employees can take advantage of.

From Duke Health Assessment to the wonderful Duke Farmers Market, this calendar has it all.

Nutritional ChoicesMaintaining a healthy diet is integral to optimal physical and mental wellness in our profession. Here we provide tips to help you make healthier food choices every day.

Eat breakfast: Avoid a major energy slump early in the day when physical and mental energy expenditures are high for anesthesiologists.

Pack a lunch and healthy snacks: It may take some planning, but packing a lunch will save money, give you more free time during your breaks and make it easier to avoid unhealthy food choices.

Consider on-line grocery shopping: Save time and make it easier to prepare healthy meals and avoid the financial and health costs associated with take-out. Several major local grocery stores offer on-line groceries that can be picked up at their drive-through.

Visit a local farmers’ market: The long growing season in our area allows us to enjoy fresh, local produce year-round.

Consider a meal delivery service: We don’t endorse one, but some examples are: Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Peach Dish, Sun Basket, Plated, Home Chef, and Purple Carrot.

Mental and Emotional WellbeingPracticing anesthesiology, whether you are a trainee or a faculty member, is both uniquely rewarding and stressful. What do you do and where do you go when you are feeling down, burned out or even spiraling towards depression? How do you and your colleagues stay inspired and excited about work?

Internship, each clinical anesthesia year, fellowship and being on faculty each have unique mental challenges to overcome. Our link to “What Keeps Me Grounded?” describes typical stressors at various stages of professional life and also highlights stories that celebrate a hard earned success or insight garnered through a difficult time. These are personal glimpses into our lives as anesthesiologists.

We hope to provide resources, both local and national, that clarify how and where to seek help when it’s needed for you, a colleague or loved one. The definition of “help” may vary – from having dinner with a co-resident or faculty member, a yearly check-up with a therapist to keep your personal goals in focus, weekly therapy Duke PAS sessions or mindfulness sessions.

A more involved option for Duke Employees includes enrolling in the WISER Resilience Support ToolKit.

Please reach out. Your colleagues care. Connection to others is critical and no one should suffer alone.

We go to great lengths to care for our patients. We are able to offer patients our best when we are caring for ourselves and permitting ourselves to reach out for help and connection.

Physical Activity and MovementAs physicians, busy work schedules can sometimes lead to our own physical health taking a backseat. Despite this, we recognize that physical health is strongly linked to a sense of overall wellness that ultimately allows us to take the best care of our patients. Duke provides an outstanding network of physicians that are available to us, some with extended hours. Our residents also benefit from several personal half-days per year for health maintenance appointments.

Regular exercise is another key component to physical health. The Medical Alumni Fitness Center is located on the T-level of Duke North and is available solely for use by residents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.   Faculty and staff are also eligible to exercise at the Duke Medical Pavilion Fitness Center – To gain access, contact Nell Price – Learn more. Employees are also eligible for discounted memberships at Duke’s Brodie and Wilson Recreation Center. Staff with 5 or more years of service qualify for the Duke Executive Health Physical – Learn more. Moreover, Duke has many additional health and wellness resources including health coaching, nutrition programs, and running/walking clubs and more.

Finally, our department strongly supports our colleagues throughout their pregnancy and post-partum journeys. The Duke offers a variety of family friendly benefits including childcare/babysitting, lactation rooms, classes and support groups for pre-natal and post-partum care.

Fulfillment and PurposeAchieving a sense of fulfillment and purpose is crucial for wellness in our profession.  For some, this goal may seem unreachable, but you are not alone!  We all need help at times.

Beyond mental and physical well-being, these tips may help trainees, faculty members and their loved ones thrive in every aspect of life:

  1. Build downtime into your schedule: Use effective time management skills to plan for leisure, because, after all, it’s a necessity!
  2. Outsource tasks when possible: Mundane chores can decrease free time. Take advantage of many Duke discounts for home-cleaning, child-care, lawn-care, dry cleaning and more.
  3. Personally connect with your patients every day: These connections will undoubtedly bring new perspective to your work and personal life in many ways.
  4. Make time for friends and family: Everyone needs a support system—even a text to loved ones can boost daily happiness.
  5. Pursue your passions outside of work: Maintaining hobbies will enhance your personal satisfaction and make for more interesting conversations with work colleagues.
  6. Reflect on your accomplishments: We are all climbing our own mountains.  Occasionally, we must remember to stop and enjoy the view!

Environment and CultureHere we provide resources and tips to help you maintain a supportive atmosphere at Duke:

  1. Understand Duke’s policy on teacher-trainee relationships and expectations
  2. See existing resources from the ACGME and CLER Program that help promote a healthy work culture
  3. Find unique ways to celebrate your peers – Blue Ribbon Awards, Compliment A Colleague on the Duke Making a Difference Blog, compliment other housestaff through Program Directors
  4. Reduce blaming and practice forgiveness
  5. Three good things in life- each day, write down three things that went well and their causes every night for one week (Am Psychol. 2005;60:410-421)
  6. Promote positive and productive communication – find common ground, practice mutual respect among all team members

What Keeps Me GroundedTaylor Herbert, MD, PhD

For me, music has never been an option. It is a basic drive that can be postponed but never denied. Music is a ledger to tabulate my thoughts and ideas, a cipher to decrypt my own emotional code. When I write music, I seek Truth. Through recording or performing music, I try to carve sound and words into a Rosetta Stone that allows me to directly communicate that truth to others.

Music also lets me breach the emotional barricades I build to defend myself from the heart-rending situations encountered by my patients. Music is one of the few things that makes me vulnerable. It keeps me in the world. To repay some of what music has given me, I released my album “In the Tall Grass” (available at taylorherbert.bandcamp.com) as a download for donation project to benefit Club Nova, a local charity that helps people with mental illness.

Andrew Perry, MD, MPH

The key to wellness is finding things that help you put yourself in balance, even in an unbalanced situation like residency training.

I like to write short stories. Creative writing isn’t a way of telling someone your ideas. It’s a way of discovering what your ideas are. Most of the time, I’m using my writing to think about the hospital and what happens there. If you feel like giving up some sleep, you might consider keeping a journal of your experiences as a resident. I guarantee you will learn somethings about yourself and medicine that you didn’t know.

I also like to read. The average protagonist in a novel has way more problems than I do, and they often fail to solve them until the last ten pages of the book. Also, they are fiction. So, you could read a book for fifteen minutes before you go to sleep, just for perspective.

Or, you could catch up on sleep.

Or spend time with your friends, or go running, or have a beer on your back porch as you talk to the squirrels. I won’t judge.

When you think about wellness, please don’t make a list of “wellness activities” you have to complete. As a resident, you’ve already got a fairly long list of things you should be doing. It’s no good sitting in a cardiac operating room at 9 pm beating yourself up because you didn’t have time to go running.

Instead, think about who you are in addition to being a doctor, and think about what that part of your needs. Then try to get to it without feeling bad if you don’t. Goal directed people that you are, you will probably get there sooner rather than later.

You have all been trained to care about your patients. It’s OK to care about yourself, as well.

Ankeet Udani

Ankeet D. Udani, MD, MSEdWhat inspires you?
At work students inspire me. Their thirst for knowledge fuels me to lead by example.

Where do you struggle?
I struggle with maintaining regular exercise. For me, it is the first thing that falls off my to-do list.

How do you find balance?
I find balance by planning in advance. If I know I have a lot of deadlines approaching, I will clear my schedule as best as I can the weeks following to allow myself to rebalance.

Ellen Flanagan

Ellen Flanagan, MDWhat inspires you?
Collaboration, people trying to work for and care for something bigger than just themselves.

Where do you struggle?
I struggle to say no.  When I am asked to do something, I try to remember that reflexively agreeing to responsibility rarely results making decisions that are most consistent with my core values.

How do you find balance?
I try to remember that every day is an opportunity for me to try to live a “personal values” based life.  Some days I do better than others and the days I do not do so well – I try to have a bit of grace with /to/for myself.

Hot Yoga! Join Ellen Flanagan and Alina Nicoara on Sundays at 4:30 for Hot Yoga.
Pearl: Writing 3 good things at night, before you go to bed, gives us the most benefit.

Jennifer Anderson

Jennifer Anderson, MDWhat inspires you?
Patients and coworkers who are kind and think of others even under stressful conditions.

Where do you struggle?
Finding balance between work and health – staying well rested, exercising regularly, finding time with family and friends.

How do you find balance?
It’s still a work in progress, but I try to focus on high priority tasks and let the less important things go. I also try to be efficient with time management; e.g., using Amazon to deliver items instead of going to the store.

Julien Cobert

Julien Cobert, MDWhat inspires you?
When thinking of inspiration, I immediately think of individuals. I am constantly surrounded by physicians, providers and friends who are wholly good, creative, intelligent and moral. My colleagues and friends obligate me to do better and be a better provider, friend and person. Inspiration comes in many forms but for me, watching goodness in others inspires me most and speaks to me most deeply. I witness this daily from those around me.

Where do you struggle?
I struggle most when dealing with mistakes and failure. In a profession whereby mistakes can lead to harm and we take oaths to do no harm, I often am unable to forgive my own mistakes. This is not a new struggle or critique but one that I have faced for a long time. I often try to justify my own self-punishment as what makes me a good provider but when does this impede on wellness? Why does thinking of mistakes turn into perseverations? Why do I find even small things so hard to shake? This is my biggest struggle.

How do you find balance?
For me, balance can be emotional and physical. It is a break from clinical and academic thinking and is a retreat from work. Emotional and physical balance go hand in hand. Every day before going to work, I exercise. I have found that it prepares me best physically and emotionally for the day to come. Plus, it makes me feel accomplished, which can be a struggle from day to day when the grind can easily wear you down. Other things that bring me balance include spending time with my (new!) wife, my dog, my family, watching movies and Netflix, listening to podcasts.

Jennifer Dominguez

Jennifer Dominguez, MDWhat inspires you?
I often find inspiration in the example of my patients.  Their courage and perseverance in the face of illness, difficult social situations, or even routine surgery is a constant reminder of how blessed I am to get up every day and do meaningful work in the service of others.

Where do you struggle?
I’ve had to learn how to say no to different endeavors in order to be able to put my energies into the areas that are most important and fulfilling to me. Prioritization and time management are things that I’m always working on. Two books have been very helpful to me in these efforts are:  Getting Things Done by David Allen and The Power of Less by Leo Babauta.

How do you find balance?
Doing yoga and meditation with my husband, especially in the morning before I start my day, have helped me to find balance at work and in my personal life. Being present when I am home with my family and trying to be mindful of the intrusions have also helped. I also try to make time every week to connect with friends and extended family either by phone or in person.

Jeffrey Gadsden

Jeffrey C. Gadsden, MDWhat inspires you?
People with the courage and determination to push through inertial barriers (i.e. “that’s the way it’s always been done”, or “we can’t do that here”).

Where do you struggle?
Finding time to do everything I want to, and delegating the stuff that I should.

How do you find balance?
Trying to leave work at work when I can. When I can’t, blocking out time when it doesn’t impact my family.

Jennifer Hauck

Jennifer Hauck, MDWhat inspires you?
Truly my patients.  I am inspired by many of them as they share their stories of strength and courage and resilience as cancer survivors many times over – who still have jobs and care for families at home.

Where do you struggle?
I struggle to prioritize taking care of myself.

How do you find balance?
I find balance in little moments of mindfulness each day – sitting outside in the sun drinking a cup of coffee or going for a walk outside.

Kendall Smith

S. Kendall Smith MD, PhDWhat inspires you?
Meaningful interactions with my patients and incredible colleagues at Duke provide a daily stream of inspiration for me to strive for excellence in my professional and personal life.

Where do you struggle?
I struggle at times to maintain a healthy work/life balance, particularly on busier rotations and during night float weeks.

How do you find balance?
Making it a daily priority to exercise helps me find balance.  Spending quality time with friends and family also helps me maintain a healthy and balanced perspective on life!

Theresa Crowgey

Theresa Crowgey, MDWhat inspires you?
My family and my community.

Where do you struggle?
The balance part of it all- finding time for self-care and fulfillment among the myriad of residency obligations is a much more difficult piece of training thank I ever anticipated.

How do you find balance?
Making a concerted effort for friends and fellowship and Vitamin D.

Chris KeithDuke Anesthesiology Wellness Connection