Newswise — The George Washington University (GW) is pleased to announce Kaylan A. Baban, MD, MPH, as the inaugural Chief Wellness Officer for GW’s medical enterprise — GW Hospital, the GW Medical Faculty Associates, and the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Burnout is more prevalent among health care and health sciences workers, professionals, and trainees than among the general U.S. population. Those working in the health care field, whether as an administrator or provider, are more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and job dissatisfaction, which can lead to adverse outcomes for health care workers, as well as the patients and communities they serve. Evidence shows, however, that effective wellness programming and strong institutional leadership committed to a culture of wellness can make a difference.

“There is a need nationally for initiatives that support those working in health care in all capacities, whether administration, building services, or direct patient care,” said Baban, who is also the director of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at the GW Medical Faculty Associates and assistant professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “For me, GW has always been an institution that has supported its people, which is a key reason I chose to return as faculty. There is recognition from leadership that this is a national challenge, and a proactive culture of wellness is necessary to be the best institution that we can be, the best place for us to work, and the best place to receive your health care.”

As Chief Wellness Officer, Baban will lead the GWell Center for Healthcare Professionals, which aims to promote a broad concept of health and wellness for all members of the GW medical enterprise. The center will use an evidence-based framework of healthful lifestyles — modeled on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration eight dimension for wellness — and supportive institutional structures. Created based on feedback from a Wellness Task Force, the center’s mission is to: promote a culture of wellness as the foundation of professional excellence, support skills development for personal and professional wellness, and provide leadership to identify and minimize structural stressors. The new center will act as an umbrella organization for existing wellness activities, and lead collaboration to develop and implement a shared vision for further program development, to affirm wellness as a central priority for the GW medical enterprise.

Initiatives thus far include self-care and mindfulness courses open to all enterprise members, GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences core curricular components, the initiation of an on-going Wellness Grand Rounds series, pursuit of an enterprise-wide Just Culture, complimentary physical activity classes at Equinox, attention to perceived structural opportunities, and development of a comprehensive plan for program evaluation.

Importantly, the center will serve the wellness needs of all members of the GW medical enterprise – non-clinical staff, clinical staff, graduate medical and health sciences students, residents, post-doctoral fellows, faculty, and alumni. There are two major opportunities for the GW community to get involved:

  • Community members can join the GW Healthcare Professionals Wellness Advisory Council — Baban is inviting broad participation in the Advisory Council from all interested enterprise members.
  • Community members can also submit an application for pilot programs that propose an evidence-based approach to fostering wellness for those working in health care.

The goal is to ensure that wellness planning and implementation for the GW medical enterprise include the perspectives of multiple groups.  

“I had my own wellness challenges as a physician, and in particular as a trainee. I retrained in preventive medicine and lifestyle medicine because of an injury I had as an ophthalmology resident. I kept working on it for three months, which ultimately made it worse, and prevented me from finishing my training. At the time, it’s what I thought I needed to do, and the prevailing culture supported that belief,” said Baban. “We all know how dedicated members of the GW community are, and need to be in order to do the jobs that we’re doing. There are real wellness challenges specific to those working in the health care and health sciences fields, in all capacities. We need to support folks in doing their work so we as an institution can do our best for our beneficiaries in the community.”

Baban is board-certified in Preventive Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine with a focus on holistic care and patient empowerment. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Columbia University as an I. I. Rabi Science Scholar. She received her MD and MPH from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai as a George James Epidemiology awardee with Distinction in Research. She completed residency and a chief year in Preventive Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai as a Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society inductee, Harvard Macy Future Academic Clinician Educator, and Mount Sinai Beth Israel Integrative Medicine interdisciplinary fellow. Baban is an active member of both the American College of Preventive Medicine and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), serving as core faculty for the colleges’ joint Lifestyle Medicine Core Curriculum course, and serving as an active member of the ACLM Provider Wellness committee.


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