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Dec 21 2021

NCMB’s Wellness and Burnout Workgroup: Progress to date

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The Wellness and Burnout Workgroup held its initial meeting in November 2020. Its charter members, Christine M. Khandelwal, DO, (Chair), W. Howard Hall, MD, Damian F. McHugh, MD, and Karen Burke-Haynes, MD, set an ambitious agenda for the year, with a primary focus on ensuring that NCMB’s processes and policies do not needlessly burden licensees or discourage clinicians who are struggling from seeking appropriate treatment or help.

Accomplishments to date include:

• Conducting a comprehensive review of the Federation of State Medical Boards’ Recommendations for State Medical Boards regarding Physician Wellness and Burnout. NCMB had already implemented most of the items on the FSMB list when the recommendations were released, but wanted to ensure it had not overlooked any opportunities to improve. Recommendations that have been implemented include removing questions related to licensee mental health, addiction or substance use from license applications and annual renewal questionnaires, ensuring that applications are ADA compliant and allowing “safe-haven non-reporting” for licensees who are in treatment for mental health and substance use, among other issues.

• Reviewed and revised information and resources provided on NCMB’s online wellness page, which can be found at www.ncmedboard.org/wellness. Please visit the page to find links to free CME, self-assessment tools, articles and more. Suggestions for additional resources that should be included are welcome and may be emailed to forum@ncmedboard.org.

• Adopted a wellness statement to be publicly posted on NCMB’s wellness page, to more visibly communicate the Board’s desire for any clinician who is in need of medical, mental health, substance use or other treatment or assistance to get help without fear of reprisal. The wellness statement reads:

Thriving, healthy medical professionals are those best suited to provide high quality patient care. In that spirit, NCMB encourages any licensee who is experiencing health problems – including burnout, mental health or substance use disorders or physical or cognitive challenges – to seek appropriate care and professional support. It is NCMB’s position that licensees should take their own health and wellbeing as seriously as they do the health and wellbeing of their patients.

• Adopted the term “provider in distress” to refer to clinicians who are experiencing some level of burnout. Having clear language to identify licensees in distress will assist the Board in being more proactive in recommending resources to support licensees in their wellness journey.

• Met with leaders of the NC Professionals Health Program to identify areas of shared interest and opportunities for possible collaboration.

In 2021-2022, the Wellness and Burnout Workgroup will continue its work under the oversight of NCMB’s Outreach Committee. The next meeting of the Outreach Committee will be held during the January Board Meeting, Jan 26-28.

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