American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Additional Past Assistance and Well-Being

New!

ACS Offers Resources to Help You Cope with Traumatic Events

Posted June 9, 2020

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when an event, or series of events, causes a lot of stress, it is called a traumatic event. Traumatic events are marked by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury or death.1

A traumatic event affects one’s beliefs about the future, including loss of hope, limited expectations about life, fear that life will end abruptly or early, or anticipation that normal life events won’t occur, such as access to education, work opportunities, relationships, social gatherings, and more.

Reactions to trauma include exhaustion, confusion, sadness, anxiety, agitation, numbness, dissociation, confusion, physical arousal, and blunted affect. Delayed trauma responses often are characterized by persistent fatigue, sleep disorders, nightmares, fear of recurrence, flashbacks, depression, and avoidance of emotions, sensations, or activities that are associated with the trauma.2

The COVID-19 pandemic is a worldwide traumatic event that is filled with a series of traumatic events for individuals, families, and communities. People respond to and cope with trauma in different ways. Learning to understand one’s own stressors and burnout is critical in maintaining well-being.

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) remains committed to your well-being and to providing resources and tools to support you as you continue to adjust life amidst the pandemic.

One step you can take today is using the ACS Surgeon Well-Being Index. This video guide is a useful resource on how to use the Physician Well-Being Index and more information is available in the user guide. To start using the tool, Associate Fellows and Fellows can use the code fellow20 and resident surgeons can use the code resident20. As always, the Well-Being Index is 100 percent anonymous—your information and score are private and your individual score will not be shared with anyone, including the ACS. Access for International members is not currently available.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Injury prevention. Coping with a traumatic event. Available at: www.cdc.gov/masstrauma/factsheets/public/coping.pdf. Accessed June 8, 2020.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Treatment Improvement Protocol—Tip 57: Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services. March 2014. Available at: https://store.samhsa.gov/product/TIP-57-Trauma-Informed-Care-in-Behavioral-Health-Services/SMA14-4816. Accessed June 8, 2020.

Four Sources of Stress for First Responders and How to Cope

Posted June 2, 2020

Stress First Aid for Firefighters and First Responders identifies four sources of stress—life threat, loss, inner conflict, and wear and tear. A life threat causes traumatic stress characterized by an experience that provokes terror, horror, or helplessness. Loss causes a grief injury in which a person experiences the loss of cherished people, things, or parts of oneself. Inner conflict results in a moral injury when someone engages in or witnesses behaviors that violate his or her values. Wear and tear produces a fatigue injury from the accumulation of stress from all sources over time without sufficient time for rest and recovery.

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered these four sources of stress over a prolonged period for many first responders, frontline health care professionals, physicians, surgeons, families, communities, and more. The consequences of stress from the COVID-19 pandemic include loss of employment, intimate partner violence, suicide, loss of purpose, experiences of death, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and so on, while exacerbating burnout.

ACS Resources Can Help Lessen Lasting Impact of COVID-19

Posted May 26, 2020

As cities, states, and countries take steps to reopen schools, restaurants, businesses, governments, and so on, the lasting impact of stress, anxiety, fear, fatigue, burnout, emotional depersonalization, and more caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Well-being runs concurrent with the six phases of a pandemic framed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and often follows the Kübler-Ross Change Curve—manifesting in mental burnout, physical exhaustion, psychic trauma, illness, and more.

Traumatic experiences, like a loved one’s or colleague’s suicide, being subjected to intimate partner violence, and a victim of violence toward others, magnify the mental health issues associated with the pandemic.

COVID-19 Is Inducing Widespread Emotional Distress: ACS Resources Can Help

Posted May 19, 2020

According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Uncertain prognoses, looming severe shortages of resources for testing and treatment and for protecting responders and health care providers from infection, imposition of unfamiliar public health measures that infringe on personal freedoms, large and growing financial losses, and conflicting messages from authorities are among the major stressors that undoubtedly will contribute to widespread emotional distress and increased risk for psychiatric illness associated with COVID-19.”*

As individuals, families, and communities build their resilience to navigate COVID-19, the trauma experiences expose risks for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health issues. The loss of needs being met, individuals becoming more vulnerable, and continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 drives the need for cultivating well-being to manage the negative symptoms of these disorders.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect every aspect of life, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) remains committed to your well-being and providing resources and tools to support you as you continue to adjust to life amid the pandemic.

The Trauma of COVID-19 Disrupts Our Well-Being: ACS Resources Can Help

Posted May 12, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is a traumatic experience for individuals, families, communities, and our world that extends beyond what is generally defined as well-being. The trauma of COVID-19 has disrupted familiar expectations, caused confusion and uncertainty, and implicated or altogether removed basic needs such as physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, and finding purpose and potential. Well-being in every life aspect becomes compromised.1

We’ve witnessed the loss of needs being met in areas such as intimate partner violence, diversity and inclusion, pay equity and employment, and more.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect every aspect of life, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) remains committed to your well-being and providing resources and tools to support you as you continue to adjust life during the pandemic.

Reference

  1. Management Is a Journey. Motivation—Applying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory. Available at: https://managementisajourney.com/motivation-applying-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-theory/. Accessed May 11, 2020.

COVID-19 Induced a Second Crisis: The Mental Health Pandemic

Posted May 8, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic 15 weeks ago. As health care professionals in China, Italy, and South Korea battled COVID-19, while the novel virus was spreading to the rest of the world, the psychological impact of COVID-19 was taking its toll on health care professionals battling the virus and those preparing to do so.

Burnout, fatigue, stress, and other mental health issues have been prevalent in the health care professions for many years. In fact, 52 percent of surgeons report experiencing burnout. Chronic workplace stress, depletion of energy and exhaustion, increased mental distance from your job or negative feelings toward your work, and reduced professional efficacy are characteristics of burnout, according to the WHO.

COVID-19 altered workplace standards, practices, and policies. Surgeons were redeployed to critical care and other specialties and had to rethink the practice of surgery. With burnout and other negative symptoms already present in the health care profession, COVID-19 induced a second pandemic—a mental health pandemic. The attention to well-being and mental health needs to accompany the battle against COVID-19. This attention to health care workforce well-being and mental health is important regardless of racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual identity and calls on all surgeons to lead at the frontlines.

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) remains committed to providing tools and resources to support you throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aging Surgeon Struggles with Conflicting Responsibilities during COVID-19

Posted May 1, 2020

A paper published in Annals of Surgery examines the conflicting obligations of an aging surgeon as he tries to decide whether to opt out of the care of COVID-19 patients. These obligations include duty to care, duty to society, duty to family, duty to co-workers, and duty to self.

Your Well-Being throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted April 24, 2020

Large-scale disasters, whether traumatic, natural, or environmental, are almost always accompanied by increases in depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, a broad range of other mental and behavioral disorders, domestic violence, and child abuse.1

As health care professionals around the world watched their counterparts in China, Italy, and South Korea battle COVID-19, the onset of psychological ramifications started to surface.2 A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that among 1,257 health care workers treating COVID-19 patients in China, 50.4 percent reported symptoms of depression, 44.6 percent reported symptoms of anxiety, 34 percent reported insomnia, and 71.5 percent reported distress.3

Within the context of the pandemic, it is anticipated that there will be “substantial increases in anxiety and depression, substance use, loneliness, and domestic violence; and with schools closed, there is a very real possibility of an epidemic of child abuse.”1

As COVID-19 continues to reveal the burnout, stress, fatigue, and more that health care professionals are compelled to manage during the course of their careers, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) is committed to helping clinicians navigate their well-being throughout this time and beyond.

One step you can take today is to use the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Surgeon Well-Being Index. This video guide is a useful resource for understanding how to use the Well-Being Index. To start using the tool, Associate Fellows and Fellows can use the code fellow20 and resident surgeons can use the code resident20. As always, the Well-Being Index is 100 percent anonymous—your information and score are private and your individual score will not be shared with anyone, including the ACS. Access for international members is not yet available.

References

  1. Galea S, Merchant RM, Lurie N. The mental health consequences of COVID-19 and physical distancing: The need for prevention and early intervention. JAMA Intern Med. April 10, 2020. Available at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2764404. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  2. Block A. Doctors and nurses are already feeling the psychic shock of treating the coronavirus. Washington Post. March 18, 2020. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/03/18/doctors-nurses-are-already-feeling-psychic-shock-treating-coronavirus/. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  3. Lai J, Simeng Ma S, Wang Y, et al. Factors associated with mental health outcomes among health care workers exposed to Coronavirus disease 2019. JAMA. March 23, 2020. Available at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2763229. Accessed April 22, 2020.

Intimate Partner Violence Task Force Tips and Resources During COVID-19 Outbreak

Posted April 4, 2020

On an average day, domestic violence hotlines in the United States receive more than 20,000 calls. Nationally, intimate partner violence (IPV) (i.e., domestic violence) accounts for 15 percent of all violent crimes. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. Annually, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.*

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) is committed to the health, well-being, and safety of surgeons and the healthcare community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACS recognizes that survivors of IPV are spending increased amounts of time in isolated spaces with their abusers.

During this time, if you are experiencing IPV, the ACS encourages you to use the curated tools and resources below to aid in the maintenance of your physical, mental, and emotional health. Remember, you are not alone.

Tips from the National Domestic Violence Hotline

Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline

Create a safety plan

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline is able to help develop a safety plan. Support is available 24/7. Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522. Click here for an interactive guide to safety planning.
  • If possible, consider sheltering-in-place with a trusted family member, friend, or co-worker.

Practice self-care

  • It is important to take time for your health and wellness. Click here for more information on how to address self-care while staying safe.
  • Read more here from the ACS on how to create space and focus on well-being during COVID-19.

Reach out for help

  • If it is safe to do so, maintain social connections online or over the phone with friends and family. Additionally, attempt to remain consistent with daily routines, as much as possible.
  • Check with your hospital or practice to learn if an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available. EAPs typically provide assessments, counseling, and referrals for additional services to employees with personal and/or work-related concerns, such as stress, financial issues, legal issues, family problems, office conflicts, and alcohol and substance abuse.

Additional Resources

* https://ncadv.org/statistics

Well-Being in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted March 31, 2020

At present, 52 percent of surgeons report that they are experiencing burnout, and COVID-19 is adding to our professional demands. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) is committed to the health and well-being of surgeons and other members of the health care community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is particularly important to create space to care for oneself amidst the increased demands of caring for patients, providing additional support to hospital systems and staff, managing workload, and navigating the impact that COVID-19 has on individuals, families, communities, hospitals, and our world.

The Surgeon Well-Being section of the ACS website is continually updated with curated articles, resources, and tools focused on well-being. One invaluable benefit available to Fellows and other members of the organization is the ACS Surgeon Well-Being Index, a validated, confidential screening tool that helps them better understand their overall well-being and provides targeted resources to fit your needs.

Visit Surgeon Well-Being

This resource also identifies apps such as Calm and Headspace that offer guided meditations for mindfulness, stress, movement, and sleep. Following recommendations from the ACS to curtail “elective” surgical procedures, surgeons also may have more time and resources available to assist your colleagues and the surgical and health care communities. Moreover, helping others is beneficial for your own mental health and well-being. Ways surgeons can help during this unprecedented time include donating blood, staying in touch with colleagues, supporting local organizations and businesses, and checking in on vulnerable neighbors.

Tips

  • Check with your hospital or practice to see if an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for any additional support. EAPs typically include assessments, counseling, and referrals for additional services to employees with personal and/or work-related concerns, such as stress, financial issues, legal issues, family problems, office conflicts, and alcohol and substance abuse.
  • Use support systems in place, such as reaching out to mentors, peers, colleagues, significant others, family, and friends.
  • Remind yourself of the signs and symptoms of stress, fatigue, and burnout:
    • Exhaustion
    • Depersonalization
    • Lack of efficacy

How You Can Help

The calling of medicine is immensely rewarding, and a surgeons’ career is dedicated to serving patients and the greater good. Following recommendations from the ACS to curtail “elective” surgical procedures, you may have more time and resources available to assist your colleagues and the surgical and health care communities. Moreover, helping others is beneficial for your own mental health and well-being. Here are ways you can help during this unprecedented time:

Donate Blood

The American Red Cross has an ongoing critical need for blood products as demand increases while blood drives continue to be cancelled at a rapid rate. Learn more and schedule a blood donation through the American Red Cross or your local blood bank.

Connect with Colleagues

Colleagues throughout your hospital system are working beside you to provide high-quality care in limited resource environments. You can support these colleagues through simple acts such as sending meals to the hospital, and reaching out by phone, text, or email to check in on their mental and physical well-being.

Support Local Organizations and Businesses

In addition to health care systems, social service agencies continue to provide critical resources to vulnerable populations. Small businesses also require the support of their greater community during this time.

  • Donate to or volunteer at your local food bank
    Food banks and other organizations that address food insecurity are experiencing increased demand right now. Feeding America has information on the needs of food banks in your local community.
  • Support small businesses
    Small businesses are especially vulnerable during economic downturns. Consider supporting local restaurants and stores by purchasing gift cards.
  • Collaborate with neighbors to check in on vulnerable community members
    Vulnerable members of your community may need your help. Volunteering to help with tasks such as grocery shopping or errands can go a long way for those who may require extra assistance.

A Message for Health Care Providers from Coach K

Posted March 30, 2020

Mike Krzyzewski, or “Coach K,” of the Duke University Blue Devils basketball team developed a video sharing an inspirational message and his support for health care workers helping COVID-19 patients. View the video.

Headspace Now Offering Free Subscriptions to Health Care Professionals

Posted March 30, 2020

Headspace, an app that provides meditation and mindfulness resources, is offering a free subscription to any U.S.-based healthcare professional with an National Provider Identifier. Visit the Headpace website to learn more.