When Physicians And Acps Need Work-Life Balance Support, Aollomd Steps Up

“So, tell me what’s going on?”

“How are you feeling today? What brings you in?”

“How are you coping with stress in your life? Any significant life events that I need to know about?

“Beyond your other symptoms, are you sleeping OK? Eating well? Drinking plenty of water?…”

Every patient should be familiar with these questions from their physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner.  While acknowledging the importance to their patients by asking these questions, clinicians often do not make their own health a priority.

  • How regularly are physicians, nurse practitioners and other advanced practice clinicians (APCs) addressing their own physical health and emotional well-being?
  • How often are they given the opportunity to step back from their hectic occupations, take stock of their health trajectory, and embrace new habits to improve their own well-being at work and at home?

At ApolloMD, all clinicians have access to robust health and wellness programs that offer personal health, emotional support, and wellness services that reinforce the company’s tagline: “Healthy Clinicians. Healthy Patients. Healthy Communities.”

“If someone needs help, we offer it,” says Sarah McGlone, Director of Project Management for ApolloMD’s varied clinician resources. Key components include free emotional health and wellness counseling, a wearable device that tracks lifestyle-wellness habits, and access to a personal development-leadership training program.

A supportive response to “I don’t need help”

Michael Lipscomb, MD, ApolloMD’s Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer, approaches the subject of employee health and well-being by acknowledging that health care workers — when asked about their own well-being — usually respond with “I don’t need help” or “I’m fine.”

But feedback about the multi-faceted wellness program has been positive, he says — an achievement he credits to ApolloMD’s company structure and multiple methods of team member support.

ApolloMD leaders and team members intrinsically understand the everyday challenges of its physicians and APCs as a physician and APC-owned company whose core business is emergency medicine, hospital medicine, and revenue cycle management services across the country. ApolloMD partners with more than 130 U.S. hospitals and medical centers in 16 states, and all clinical executives continue to work on-site shifts providing medical care to patients.

“Not everyone’s wired the same, and we’re trying different things to be helpful,” he explains. “We all went through COVID together, and we understand how physicians, APCs and other medical professionals think. We have a sense of what may or may not be helpful. We understand the struggles of the past three years, and we understand that working in health care is not as easy as it was 3-4 years ago. So, we’re continually reaching out to doctors and APCs to do what we can to make their lives better.”

He acknowledges lingering frustration from advanced practice clinicians and physicians about why the health care system in general has not fully recovered from recent stressors, “but our employees see that ApolloMD is trying because we’re physicians and APCs who are also working on the front lines.”

Key EAP services offered to ApolloMD clinicians and physicians include:

Physician Support Services (PSS) Program

In partnership with MINES & Associates, a leading international psychology firm, PSS offers confidential counseling for physicians for a variety of challenges and topics. Eligible full- and part-time physicians receive free, virtual, telephonic, asynchronous message-based, or face-to-face services.

Sessions can cover marital and family issues, personal stress/anxiety, depression, burnout, addictive behaviors, coping skills for anger/grief/loss, cross-cultural concerns, and other topics. MINES & Associates professionals also are available on an as-needed basis for trauma counseling, grief recovery, and other crisis-related topics.

WHOOP, a wearable health monitoring device

ApolloMD employees are eligible to wear a health-tracking wristband device 24/7 for 60 days to monitor three pillars that support mental and physical health: sleep, recovery, and strain. Based on anonymous feedback from WHOOP users, employees reported positive lifestyle changes based on the data-driven feedback provided by their wearable device, including:

  • Less engagement with TV, mobile devices, and social media before bed
  • Better sleep habits, more naps, longer and higher-quality sleep
  • Increased exercise and workouts
  • Improved hydration
  • Improved nutrition and targeted supplements
  • Deep breathing and meditation for relaxation/stress relief

Personal Sigma Initiative

In conjunction with OneTeam Leadership, ApolloMD offers the Personal Sigma Foundations Process, a comprehensive program focused on individual and group collaboration, team building, small-group coaching, personal awareness and endurance to “lead with energy and support vibrancy in every aspect of life.” The program acknowledges that health care professionals work in an environment defined by relentless demands.

“It’s a guided approach to building a stronger base of energy on the team,” says McGlone. “It addresses the demands of work and then focuses on how to recover and thrive within the key dimensions of your life and work.”

Feedback shapes ongoing initiatives

“The feedback we’ve received from team members who’ve completed the OneTeam group program has been very positive,” says Dr. Lipscomb. “In this post-COVID environment, wellness among health care professionals is a real thing. Today, there are plenty of programs, articles, and blogs about paying attention to physician and APC wellness, and we were addressing it even before COVID. With these programs in place, we’re showing our physicians, APCs and other team members that we care, and that we can be physician- and APC-friendly in how we operate our practices.”

McGlone acknowledges that her involvement in selecting and implementing these programs companywide had a profound impact on her own approach to work-life balance.

Today, she schedules vacations and short weekend trips. She takes supplements to support her health. She gives herself permission to walk away from the desk for a cup of coffee or a mind-clearing short walk.

“I know when to walk away, yet I’m just as productive as I’ve always been,” McGlone says. “It’s all a matter of mindset. I was able to change the dialogue in my head about what work should look like.

“In this position, I’ve learned so much about myself,” she adds. “Now when I see APCs or physicians struggling, I can offer insights into how to add things into their life, not to make it more difficult — but to make things easier.”

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