ProAssurance gift to UAB establishes the nation’s first academic research program dedicated to physician wellness

The ProAssurance Endowed Chair for Physician Wellness at UAB will help address health issues unique to physicians as they deal with the stress and pressures associated with providing care in today’s evolving health care environment.

Birmingham-based ProAssurance Corporation and the University of Alabama at Birmingham announced today a gift to UAB to establish the ProAssurance Endowed Chair for Physician Wellness. The academic chair is the first of its kind in the United States and demonstrates ProAssurance’s and UAB’s commitment to their roles as advocates for America’s physicians.  

The initial $1.5 million gift to the UAB School of Medicine will endow an academic chair and support a research team dedicated to addressing health issues that are unique to physicians as they deal with the stress and pressures associated with providing care to their patients in today’s rapidly evolving health care environment.

ProAssurance MWProAssurance also plans to make an additional financial gift to the UAB School of Nursing to enhance the future of nursing care in Alabama“UAB leadership is committed at the highest level to provide our physicians, residents, fellows and trainees the same type of world-class care they provide for the citizens of Alabama and beyond every day,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “This generous investment by ProAssurance to fund a first-of-its-kind academic chair will enable us to recruit an expert in the field of physician wellness who can implement well-designed interventions that enhance our sustainable culture of wellness and provide trainees with tools and resources to manage stress and burnout. The result will be more-engaged physicians who can provide the highest-quality care to their patients.”

ProAssurance Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stan Starnes underscores the importance of the research that will emerge from the company’s gift.

“Physicians have always been subject to high levels of stress from a variety of factors, such as society’s expectations for successful outcomes, the threat of litigation, and the effects of their professional obligations on the quality of their lives, and their family’s lives,” Starnes said. “As medicine evolves to address the changing dynamic of health care in America, we must find ways to address these pressures.”

Starnes says ProAssurance also expects to provide an additional gift of $500,000 to fund various initiatives in support of physician wellness. The company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Hayes V. Whiteside, says such programs are a logical extension of ProAssurance’s role as a trusted partner with physicians and the nation’s health care community.

“Assisting physicians has always been a high priority for ProAssurance,” Whiteside said. “Now more than ever, we need to ensure that today’s physicians maintain their commitment to their high calling, and that future physicians are equipped to deal with the realities of their vital chosen profession.”

“We are fortunate to have some of the best physicians in America right here in Birmingham as part of our School of Medicine,” said Selwyn Vickers, M.D., senior vice president of Medicine and dean of UAB’s School of Medicine, “and it is important that we consistently work to provide them an environment that promotes wellness opportunities to help them flourish in their field. Doctors who take care of themselves are better role models for their patients and for their children, have higher patient satisfaction and safety scores, experience less stress and burnout, and live longer. We are grateful to ProAssurance for their gift, which will greatly enhance our training programs and enable them to create a sustainable culture of wellness.”

In addition to the funds being committed to addressing physician wellness, ProAssurance plans to make an additional financial gift to the UAB School of Nursing to enhance the future of nursing care in Alabama.

“Nurses are a crucial part of the care delivery team in our state, and their role will become increasingly important as our health care delivery systems expand to meet the demands that will come with the exponential growth of an aging population,” Starnes said.

“Nursing is one of the most versatile — and vital — occupations in the health care workforce, and we strive to train innovative leaders who will transform health care,” said Doreen Harper, Ph.D., dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in UAB’s School of Nursing. “The ever-evolving landscape of health care and the changing profile of the population demand a fundamental shift in the health care system to provide patient-centered care. More nurses will be needed to deliver primary care and community care, ensure seamless care, foster interprofessional collaboration, and enable all health professionals to practice to the full extent of their education, training and competencies. This shift will result in reduced errors, increased safety and the highest-quality care for patients. We are delighted and appreciative that ProAssurance is providing this support to help us shape patient-centered health care by preparing recognized nurse leaders who excel as clinicians, researchers and educators in Alabama, nationally and internationally.”

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