The need for a comprehensive, effective faculty health program at M. D. Anderson originated from the suicide of a faculty member. When physicians are unable to help patients get better, or lose a patient under their care, they often do not talk about the loss, said Janis Apted, associate vice president of Faculty Development at M. D. Anderson. "These high-performing individuals tend to feel it is a sign of weakness to admit to feeling stressed or exhausted. They do not readily reach out for help."

The authors recommend offering programs designed to develop, educate and engage faculty members in relieving stress, opening a dialogue, ensuring confidentiality and promoting career development and success. At M. D. Anderson, leaders in the Faculty Health Program and Faculty Development have developed a comprehensive health program for the institution's 1,500 faculty members. Activities range from educational seminars, experiential workshops and relaxing opera performances to no-cost, confidential therapy sessions.

"With the economic challenges we face today, the level of pressure and competitiveness will continue to escalate. It should be a responsibility of institutions to help their physicians take care of their well-being, as they take care of the patients," said Apted.

"Research scientists and clinicians need access to a well-designed program that will enable them to better cope with factors leading to stress and burnout." Gritz said. "Additional programs and research are needed in this area, because of the impact that faculty health and well-being has on productivity, staff, patients and other outcomes."

Source: The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center