The educational component of the HEAR program incorporates a multidisciplinary committee consisting of school faculty, program counselors and medical students who deliver one-hour, live presentations about physician suicide.
Presentations include an informational lecture, screening a 15-minute portion of an AFSP film about physician suicide called “Struggling in Silence,” and a question-and-answer session.
Lectures review the scope of the problem and discuss the relationships among burnout, depression and suicide, and highlight factors that affect physicians’ care-seeking behavior. Each presentation is modified for different settings, such as professional workshops, brief meetings and departmental grand rounds. This kind of flexibility allows the HEAR program to garner interest from a variety of physician and student audiences.
The results so far
As of 2014, the HEAR program had been delivered to 1,008 medical students, 34 percent of whom completed the questionnaire. Almost eight percent of those who responded met the criteria for high or significant suicide risk. Less than a quarter of the at-risk students were already receiving mental health treatment, showing how the program could help close the gap in access to potentially life-saving care.
In the seven years since the inception of the HEAR program, the UCSD staff has delivered almost 120 presentations. More than 2,600 medical students, residents, fellows and faculty have completed the anonymous online questionnaire.
A new module from the AMA’s STEPS Forward™ collection of practice improvement strategies focuses on the unique vulnerability and treatment needs of physicians. The module, “Preventing Physician Distress and Suicide,” includes four steps for identifying at-risk physicians and referring them to appropriate care, provides answers to common questions about physician distress and suicidal behavior, and offers downloadable tools to help you and your organization.
There are seven new modules available from the AMA’s STEPS Forward collection, bringing the total number of practice improvement strategies to 42. Several of the modules were developed thanks to a grant from and collaboration with the Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative.
For more on wellness and burnout:
- How physician burnout compares to general working population
- Specialties with the highest burnout rates
- How the Mayo Clinic is battling burnout
- A double-edged sword: What makes doctors great also drives burnout
- Accreditor lays out plan for resident well-being
- The physician’s essential art of balancing emotion and logic
- Student wellness: Blueprints for the curriculum of the future
- Medical school burnout: How to take care of yourself