May 12, 2021

Whitt presents “Cultivating Resilience” at latest School of Medicine Grand Rounds

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Grand Rounds logoOn Wednesday, May 12, Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, dean of the School of Medicine, hosted the quarterly School of Medicine Grand Rounds for all faculty, students, staff, and trainees. Special guest Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., head of Global Resilience at Google, presented “Cultivating Resilience.”

Whitt earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Vanderbilt University, and holds a Ph.D. from Clemson University, where her research focused on the presence and development of resiliency skills in high performers. From January 2011-2014, she worked as Wellness Director for UAB.

In her presentation, Whitt discussed how to build resilience, how to avoid burnout, and learning to be intentional—timely themes surrounding wellness for Mental Health Month in May.

What is resilience?

Whitt defined resilience as “our ability to respond to and recover from stress.” Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, and foundational to building a positive approach to life. It helps garner meaning in day-to-day activities, and is often a facilitator for growth. Moreover, it contributes to the way we handle difficult situations, unexpected circumstances, and adversity.

Mitigating burnout

Cultivating resilience deduces our chances of burnout, and helps us lead more meaningful lives. Whitt shared a scientific model on resilience, illustrating how we balance our protective factors and life stressors. When a disruption happens to that balance, resilience gives us an opportunity to stabilize and thrive. Whitt discussed research by Google that shows those who are focused on cultivating resilience have lower rates of burnout on a consistent basis.

How to get started

To begin building resilience, Whitt explained that by “meeting the moment” we currently face in our individual lives, we have more opportunity for growth.

She also discussed balancing competing priorities and reframing thinking patterns. “Resilience is dynamic, not static,” she said. Moreover, she talked about the differences in healthy attachment versus healthily detaching, checking-in on our thoughts, energy, and attention, and preparing for what-if scenarios.

106801992 1606258702805 Google Resilience LaurenWhitt nobranding 1Wellness in the School of Medicine

As Whitt stated in her presentation, resilience is a skill that can be built, practiced, and cultivated by attitude and behavior. This requires time, steadfastness, and dedication.

The School of Medicine is committed to growing our wellness culture and creating safe spaces for our employees and students. Wellness is a key priority. To that end, the School of Medicine and UAB at-large offer many resources to maintain wellness on a daily or regular basis. While there are several, here are a few:

B Well App

Available on the App Store and Google Play, B Well provides personalized tools and easy access to available health and wellness resources for all UAB employees and students. The app aims to support mental health in a variety of ways. Features of the app include a live UAB Campus Calendar feed of health and wellness-related events, and opportunities to earn My Health Rewards points. Employee users will also have access to a Resource Hub of links and information to employee-specific health services from UAB Employee Wellness and the Employee Assistance and Counseling Center. Students are offered self-care plans tailored to their lifestyle and have opportunities to focus on good habits in sleep, movement, nutrition, routine, and resiliency.


The UAB Employee Assistance and Counseling Center partners with myStrength to provide free access to web and mobile tools for increased emotional health and well-being for employees and members of their immediate households. myStrength features hundreds of resources on stress management, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, parenting, substance abuse, and more. Access to myStrength is free and you do not have to be an existing EACC client to take advantage of this resource.

UAB Cares

UAB Cares offers help for students and employees through the UAB CARES Suicide Prevention Initiative. The tools and resources offer mental health education on a variety of topics, including the signs and symptoms of suicide, how to help someone, stress management tools, and support for managers.

GME Wellness Space

The GME Wellness Space will serve 1,000+ residents, and will be the first of its kind in the southeast. The multifunctional location will sit inside UAB Hospital where trainees can visit with their families, exercise, enjoy a healthy meal, study, research, and much more. Goals of the space are to promote camaraderie, team-building, and work-life balance, while fueling career-fulfillment for budding physicians. The space will include five zones: a hospitality zone, an activity zone, a mother's room and lactation center, quiet study zone, and a multipurpose meeting zone.

The School of Medicine emphasizes the importance of wellness for trainees, as they are at particularly high risk of burnout. Efforts like these are critical to building a wellness culture across the School of Medicine enterprise.

UAB Medicine Office of Wellness

Serving UAB Medicine and School of Medicine communities, the UAB Medicine Office of Wellness aims to improve the health and well-being of faculty, staff, students, and trainees by providing patient- and family-centered clinical care, rich learning opportunities for faculty and staff, and support for researchers who are advancing medical science. Led by David Rogers, M.D., MHPE, chief wellness officer and senior associate dean for Faculty Affairs and Professional Development, the office focuses on five major areas of wellness—physical, intellectual, occupational, emotional, and spiritual—and provides resources on how to improve each.

Well-Being Index

All employees in UAB Medicine have access to the Well-Being Index (WBI), a web-based tool used to evaluate multiple dimensions of distress in just 7-9 questions. It is designed to help users measure, monitor, and maintain their distress levels and detect burnout. It allows users to compare their scores to peers at UAB Medicine and nationally. The tool tracks progress over time to promote self-awareness, offers wellness resources locally and nationally, and is 100% anonymous.

More on the School of Medicine Grand Rounds

The quarterly Grand Rounds is available to all staff, students, faculty, and trainees in the School of Medicine. Grand Rounds benefits researchers, physicians, educators, administration, other healthcare professionals, helping them stay informed of trending topics, keeping them up-to-date in evolving areas, and providing education that may exist outside their core practice.

Series topics are broad in nature and appeal to those interested in health, healthcare, disparities, medicine, culture, and more.

Watch the latest Grand Rounds here.