June 02, 2020

Well-Being Index offers paramount change for UAB Medicine senior director of Pastoral Care

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Malcolm Marler in ProvincetownOver the past two years, the UAB Medicine Office of Wellness has rolled out the Well-Being Index (WBI), a 7-9-question self-assessment tool, to UAB Medicine employees. The launch began with faculty, APPs, and trainees, and the tool continued to roll out to other groups one-by-one. Now available to all employees within UAB Medicine, the brief online survey offers users an overview of professional and personal wellness levels. Backed by research from the Mayo Clinic, the assessment identifies an individual’s top three areas for growth and provides resources on national and/or local levels to help them improve their well-being. For one UAB Medicine employee, the WBI was a total game-changer in his personal and professional well-being.

Malcom Marler, senior director for Pastoral Care in UAB Medicine, was uncertain about how the WBI could help him at first. He initially heard about the tool from David Rogers, M.D., MHPE, chief wellness officer. Rogers introduced the WBI to Marler at a monthly wellness champions meeting, a group focused on improving and elevating employee wellness at UAB. Marler says, “I wondered if just a few questions that I could answer in 5 minutes would give me an accurate picture of how I am doing in my own life with wellness or resiliency.”

Marler pushed through his doubt and decided to take the short survey, committing to answer each question with complete and total honesty. The survey was presented to him following a very difficult time in his personal and professional life. “The previous week I was not feeling much joy or purpose or meaning in my work,” he says. “I was working about 11 or 12 hours, 5 days a week and answering email, texts, and phone calls about work when I wasn’t there. I worked longer at the office thinking I could catch up by starting a little earlier or staying a little later. I was frustrated, stressed, and overwhelmed.” Additionally, Marler says he struggled with a few mental roadblocks to physical activity—like the handful of times he had talked himself out of exercising while sitting in the parking lot of the gym.

Marler’s Well-Being Index results came back as expected, but he says a major shift in his thinking took place when he saw the results in black-and-white. Seeing his reality was a true turning point for Marler—a “call to action,” he says.

After Marler let his results sink in, he started paying more attention to his daily choices. “In the short-term, I started going to bed earlier to get 8 hours of sleep. I worked out lightly for 30 minutes a day, at least 4 times per week. My goal was just to get in the gym, I told myself. I didn’t have to set any records after I arrived; I just needed movement for 30 minutes or more—whether it was strength-training, riding a bike, or both. The most challenging part of working out for me is walking through the gym door.” These simple, daily decisions to stay well have helped Marler drastically improve his overall well-being.

When asked what he wants others to know about the WBI, he replies that UAB’s resource is an easy way to get a reality check. When an employee’s wellness is validated by the survey, then they can empower themselves to decide if they need, or want, to talk to someone about their situation. For some, it may be as simple as making a few, small daily changes. For others, it may be a larger decision to seek out counseling or join a support group. Finally, Marler wants us all to know that “the WBI is a good tool where you can be honest about yourself, and no one else has to see it. It is totally confidential.”

If you are an employee who wants get started with the WBI, click here. You will be prompted to enter an access code based on your profession. Please find your access code by group/role below:

Trainee (Resident/Fellow/Other Trainee): UAB TRAINEE
Employee/Staff*: UAB MEDICINE

*If you are a researcher/scientist, please use the code UAB MEDICINE, and make sure to select “scientist” as your occupation.

If you have already taken the Well-Being Index, you may do a re-assessment quarterly or monthly.