“Wellness” and “self-care” are massive buzz words it seems, but beyond the trendiness, personal wellness has made its mark on numerous industries, including health care. For the past few years, ASH has made “clinical well-being” an evolving presence at the annual meeting and invited attendees to interact with the concept in myriad ways. New this year, and continuing in the spirit of previous years, the ASH Wellness Studio represents ASH’s ongoing effort to address the topic of resilience and clinical well-being through education. Here, attendees may engage in short (10-20 minute) micro-bursts of education throughout the day on topics related to building healthy habits. The Studio will be centrally located just outside of Hall C (Orange County Convention Center, West Building, Level 2 – map it), and attendees are encouraged to visit in between sessions, during lunch breaks, or whenever one’s schedule permits.
At last year’s annual meeting, attendees could view an art exhibit curated by the National Academy of Medicine that aimed to explore how clinician burnout, well-being, and resilience manifest around the globe. In 2017, hematologists were invited to express their challenges and how they try to build resilience each day, with an onsite artist illustrating their stories on a whiteboard wall — a popular feature that is still available to interact with this year. Michael Linenberger, MD, FACP, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has been a proponent of keeping the wellness themes and practices at the forefront of the annual meeting and stated that the goal is to transition from “passive awareness and acknowledgement” of these practices toward active interventions that carry long-lasting benefits. “By repeatedly identifying what brings meaning and purpose to our lives, we remind ourselves who we are and why we work so hard,” he said. “This in turn reinforces the healing power of self-compassion and gratitude.” Dr. Linenberger mentioned that such practices suppress our “negativity bias” and help individuals develop a hard-wired mental “muscle memory” that keeps us in the moment and able to collect new experiences that deliver joy and satisfaction.
The studio will offer an informal setting for learning with wellness-focused faculty, and as Dr. Linenberger also explained, a diverse array of topics will be delivered, including solutions for better sleep, avoiding mental fatigue and burnout, methods for de-stressing and mindful eating, and mind-body exercises that teach simple but highly valuable skills that anyone will be able to practice and adapt at work, on the road, and at home. (Check the mobile app for more on the studio’s final class schedule.)
Attendees will be able to find a host of activities and amenities centered around wellness, all throughout the meeting. “Early morning yoga will appeal to novices and experts who want to bend, flex, center and pose before tackling the busy day,” said Dr. Linenberger, referencing the complimentary yoga classes that will be available Saturday and Monday morning at the ASH Park @ The Plaza. Attendees can also take advantage of Nap Pods, located in ASH Central (Hall C). “A 20-minute power nap will provide that much-needed respite to clear the mind and recharge the batteries for the next session,” he said.
The goal of the many wellness activities at the 61st ASH Annual Meeting is to help attendees gather practical recommendations on straightforward interventions that can be easily implemented within a busy day, at mealtimes, and preparing for sleep. “We want the participants to take full advantage of these resources and walk away understanding the significant benefits that even a couple of minutes of time can bring to their physical health and emotional well-being,” said Dr. Linenberger in closing. “We want them to serve as a foundation on which the learners will build and expand so that eventually they are part of daily healthy habits and a positive mental outlook.”
ASH offers several resources to help clinicians and trainees be resilient. Visit www.hematology.org/Clinicians/8437.aspx to learn more.