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Extraordinary People |
Center for Provider Wellbeing:
 Preventing burnout and finding joy in practice
As a doctor in the Emergency Department at Christiana Care Health System for 16 years, Heather Farley, M.D., MHCDS, FACEP, saw patients every day who were sick and suffering, victims of illness and violence. After a particularly difficult case, she began to experience feelings of distress, anxiety and guilt. She started to replay the events in her mind and even to question her decision to become a doctor.
Dr. Farley was experiencing “secondary trauma” — emotional distress that can strike health care providers following adverse outcomes or particularly difficult and traumatic cases. This experience inspired her to develop the Center for
IProvider Wellbeing at Christiana Care.
n health care, a profession dedicated to helping others, providers have been hesitanttoseekemotionalsupport for these reactions. Until recent-
ly, little has been understood about the consequences of secondary trauma or the emotional roller coaster providers face after an adverse patient event, like a death or unexpected complication. In an increasing body of research on provider well-being, the
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that as many as half of all doctors will experience a serious adverse patient event at least once during their career.
“We go into the health care profession to care, to cure, to heal,” said Dr. Farley, who directs the Center for Provider Wellbeing. “To serve our patients with excellence and withlove,weneedtomeetourownneeds so that we can be fully engaged for them, and for one another.”
With support from Christiana Care leader- ship, Dr. Farley developed the Care for the Caregiver peer support program in 2015.
A specially trained team of peer support- ers is available around the clock to help caregivers handle stress and cope with adverse patient events. Since the program began, Care for the Caregiver has helped more than 450 health care professionals at
ChristianaCare. CONTINUED
 joy in p
The Center for Provider Wellbeing team: Kathryn McKenna, M.D., provider wellbeing champion; Lauren Speakman, MBA, BSN, RN, CCRN, program manager; Patricia Moore, M.D., perioperative wellbeing champion; Vanessa Downing, Ph.D., director of content development and training; Jessica Hinckle, coordinator and administrative assistant; Heather Farley, M.D., MHCDS, FACEP; and Greta Ehrhart, BS, MPA, project manager.

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