January 17, 2018

Rogers named UAB Medicine’s Chief Wellness Officer

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RS12259 David Rogers scr 1UAB Medicine is prioritizing faculty wellness by creating the chief wellness officer position, which focuses on expanding efforts to reduce system-based stressors that lead to faculty burnout and adds programs that improve wellness. David A. Rogers, M.D., MHPE, senior associate dean for Faculty Affairs and Professional Development in the School of Medicine, became the inaugural chief wellness officer effective Jan. 1.

“There are important reasons to have a focused effort on improving the wellness of physician faculty given the impact that physician engagement has on patient care and the findings that burnout rates amongst physicians is growing at substantially higher rates than other groups,” said Rogers. “However, we also need to improve the wellness of all members of the health care team.”

Rogers explained he plans to collaborate with UAB employee wellness leadership and UAB Medicine nursing leaders to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach. He is also focused on addressing increased physician burnout.

“My aspiration is we undertake initiatives that address the recent national uptick in burnout and improve physician and employee wellness at UAB Medicine,” said Rogers. “Additionally, we have a community of scholars who can help us better understand this challenge and improve our efforts to identify or develop interventions that effectively improve wellness. One scholarship opportunity is to examine burnout in our research scientist faculty, where we know that the stress levels are enormously high.”

In his new position, Rogers will define and track specific measures of well-being, institute training designed to improve stress management and resilience, create organizational change that promotes wellness and engagement, and contribute to scholarship on health care provider wellness and engagement. He is planning to invite input from the UAB Medicine community to be certain that these efforts are optimal for UAB. One idea is to adopt the commercialized version of The Mayo Clinic’s “Well-Being Index.” It allows physicians and researchers to answer a short questionnaire anonymously that informs them of their burnout risk and then directs them to a list of local and national resources.

“My work in faculty wellness began several years ago when Drs. Ferniany and Vickers asked me to examine ways that we might reduce stress levels reported on the faculty engagement surveys,” said Rogers. “I’m honored to continue this work and expand its focus on promoting wellness, in addition to continuing our efforts to reduce stress and improve engagement.”

Rogers came to UAB in 2012 from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where he was professor of surgery and pediatrics. In his role at UAB, Rogers has been responsible for helping faculty physicians and scientists successfully meet their individual professional goals. He is also the co-director of the UAB Healthcare Leadership Academy.

“Dr. Rogers has made it his professional mission to improve wellness in our physicians, researchers and employees,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine. “He shares Dr. Ferniany’s and my vision to make employee wellness a top priority of UAB Medicine, and his unique approach that combines professional knowledge with firsthand experience makes him the ideal person for this newly minted role.”