Peer-to-peer coaching program created to strengthen wellness support

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The Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) and the Academy for Surgical Coaching are developing a first-of-its-kind coaching program that strengthens wellness support for vascular surgeons. Studies show they—along with physicians across specialties—are experiencing an increase in burnout, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.

The partnership was announced earlier this month. Coach selection is expected to occur in May or June, with training then expected to begin in July.

Research conducted by the SVS Wellness Task Force has reinforced and replicated many of the studies’ findings within the specialty of vascular surgery. With this new program, customized to vascular surgery, SVS aims to address the triggers of burnout and provide wellness support through coaching intervention.

“We are excited about our partnership … and consider it a shining example of how we are listening and responding to our members regarding wellness initiatives,” said Dawn Coleman, MD, co-chair of the SVS Wellness Task Force. “We believe we are one of the first medical societies to take the translational step from studying and discussing the issues to providing service and support for members.”

Initially, SVS hopes to recruit and train a dozen vascular surgeons to become certified surgical coaches, each of whom will be paired with as many as two vascular surgeons seeking support for a three-month period. Over the course of a year, it is hoped each surgical coach will work with up to four SVS members. SVS will expand the program if evaluation demonstrates success.

“Our experience shows surgeons love working with surgical coaches because it changes the way they think about their practice,” said Caprice Greenberg, MD, the president and co-founder of the Academy for Surgical Coaching. “The coaching sessions will focus on identifying challenges, setting goals and pushing for continuous improvement. Surgeons can discuss operative performance, leadership skills, clinical judgement or self-regulation. The surgical coach is there to support vascular surgeons to achieve their individualized and self-identified goals.”

As practicing vascular surgeons themselves, the surgical coaches will be well-positioned to help their colleagues manage professional challenges and ultimately increase job satisfaction. Additionally, peer-to-peer support will help minimize the isolation associated with vascular surgery and de-stigmatize the culture of “complacent suffering.”

“We want to make sure we address the inherent issues, such as emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, that might be contributing to burnout among vascular surgeons,” said Niten Singh, MD, program co-designer and a task force member. “We will focus on these issues first.”

Funding support for this program was provided in part by a grant from W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., as part of the SVS Quality Practice Block Grant program.

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