Strategic Vision

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Faculty Development

David Mahvi, MD

David Mahvi, M.D. was named the Vice Chair of Faculty Development. In his new role, he leads the charge of programmatic development for leadership and mentorship, providing a strong foundation for our faculty to become nationally recognized surgical leaders, with phase 1 being the development of a Clinical Provider Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program.  

COVID- 19 has changed the delivery of health care.  Many aspects of this were good- virtual visits to avoid travel for routine postoperative visits, a focus on patient care for extremely ill patients comes to mind. 

On the flip side, since surgeons are essential workers, which in the beginning of the COVID pandemic required accepting personal health risks with no clear idea of the outcome of an infection, many surgical providers are now facing a population that is sicker, often avoiding health care visits in the early phase of the pandemic to protect their families. And, with no signs of the pandemic going away any time soon, we began to see provider burnout and provider isolation.  

As a department, we chose to develop a new Provider Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program to aid our surgical faculty and residents during these difficult times.  We felt that there was no real forum for the discussion of unexpected surgical outcomes or unexpected conflict in the workplace.  

After a review of established programs across the country, we selected a system developed by Jo Shapiro, M.D., the Director of the Center for Professionalism and Peer Support and a surgeon in the Department of Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). The Center has become a model for institutions seeking methods to enhance teamwork and looking to help mitigate the epidemic of burnout plaguing the medical profession. 

With the nation now in its third year of the pandemic, the need is greater than expected and we hope these efforts will reduce burnout and fatigue.

Our program is not meant for technical discussion, education or peer review.  It is a mechanism to support faculty as they treat patients with more and more complex problems.  

The program is completely confidential and offered to every surgeon with an unexpected complication or any surgeon referred to our team by another surgeon. This year, four of our faculty underwent training in a system designed to help surgeons with issues that could not be easily discussed in an open forum.  

We do not offer counseling, but we have referred faculty to resources outside the department. We plan to expand the program to our residents this year.  We have also invited Dr. Shapiro to present at a Grand Rounds on November 8, 2022. Everyone is encouraged to attend and learn from her about where our profession is headed, and the significant impact Peer-to-Peer Support Programs offer clinicians.

Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Sharee Wright, MDRealizing that successful diversity, equity and inclusion programs need a champion who will plan, execute and manage the effort to push the boundaries and create new methods to foster intentional DEI progress in the workspace, Prabhakar Baliga, M.D. named Sharee Wright, M.D. the inaugural Vice Chair of DEI in FY21. 

The department’s goal is to not only have a diverse workforce but also to have systems and procedures that allow for all employees to be included and have their voices heard. To achieve this goal, Dr. Wright’s overarching vision is to unify the whole department so all faculty, staff, and trainees feel included. 

“Building a more diverse and inclusive environment makes us all much better versions of ourselves, which then has a ripple effect – creating amazing teams that respect and support each individual, and ultimately creating a culture where we are better able to understand and care for our diverse patient population,” said Dr. Wright. 

The first step was to focus on developing a DEI team and an advisory committee comprised of multiple members from various divisions. Dr. Wright and her team, including fiscal analyst Keller Lee, office manager Michelle Hill, and the advisory committee, paved a path forward to widen our lens and help us be more intentional in our day-to-day interactions.  

This year they launched an engaging, invited-lecture series and “Our Voices,” a collection of our colleagues’ lived experiences posted to our website to dispel negative stereotypes and personal biases. To accomplish the larger vision of unifying the whole department, Dr. Wright secured a OneMUSC FY23 Strategy Grant for $25,000 to develop a multi-faceted DEI curriculum within the department.

Once the plan rolls out, surveys will be used to gauge interest in topics, evaluate the talks and sessions, and continually improve on the program through quality improvement strategies to better meet the needs of our workforce. The strategic plan for the upcoming fiscal year includes:

  • Hosting small group sessions open to all members of the Department of Surgery
  • Offering a DEI Speaker Series focusing on heritage months along with two DEI Grand Rounds
  • Investing in an interactive display wall that will include three screens to reflect and celebrate our diverse teams  

Dr. Wright says the next step will be to go deeper into workspace culture, working at the division level to develop a well-rounded perspective of DEI, so all voices in each specialty are aligned to provide optimal patient care.

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Personal Development and Wellbeing 

Andrea Abbott MD MSCRAndrea Abbott, M.D. MSCR, a champion of well-being, has been named the Vice Chair of Personal Development and Well-being to increase wellness and reduce faculty burnout. Although physician burnout is not new, recent years have seen a spike in its prevalence, primarily due to the pandemic and unprecedented changes in the healthcare industry that have affected how physicians deliver care.

Dr. Abbott explains if you feel like all of your efforts are not being noticed or rewarded, or nothing is ever going to change to make your work environment better, that leads to burnout. And so identifying and addressing stressors that we can tackle and change is key to reducing burnout.  

“But that’s not as easy as buying pizza,” said Dr. Abbott. “That takes time. And so you’ve got to buy the pizza in the meantime, as you work to achieve a cultural shift.” 

To help create that shift, Dr. Abbott attended the Physician Wellbeing Director Course at Stanford University. The program equips leaders with knowledge and tools to catalyze changes at the local level, including departments, divisions, and work groups. Some of the key learning objectives are to recognize the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in achieving the goals of professional fulfillment and well-being and utilize effective methods to gain peer and leadership collaborations. 

MUSC stood out among the international cohort by having prebuilt pillars for DEI, faculty development, and well-being with named leaders, support, and dedicated resources already in place. Dr. Abbott says we are fortunate to have Dr. Baliga as our leader, who values the wellness of our teams and understands the importance of integrating these three pillars to improve our culture. 

She sees her role as bringing the DEI and Faculty Development efforts together to create a culture where we have one cohesive unit supporting each other. She acknowledges support is different for every individual, and that is one of the greatest challenges.

As the initiative rolled out, in addition to “buying the pizza,” once the COVID mask mandates were lifted, Dr. Abbott and her committee focused on creating fun, engaging social events and finding ways to reduce stress during the work week. All faculty, trainees, and staff were invited to attend two RiverDogs games and a Harbor Cruise this year. To help with increasing physical activity and reducing stress, two Peloton bikes are now available to members of the department. 

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