Dr Mila Felder Discusses How Peer Support Programs Can Help Alleviate Drug Shortage Distress

Mila Felder, MD, FACEP, emergency physician and vice president for Well-Being for All Teammates, Advocate Health, shares insights on how peer support groups can help manage psychological and emotional distress amid a national drug shortage.

It is important that clinicans and nonclinicans have the proper tools to support teams and patients during critical times, especially in the wake of a national drug shortage, says Mila Felder, MD, FACEP, emergency physician and vice president for Well-Being for All Teammates, Advocate Health.


With the recent national drug shortage, how has Advocate Health adapted its approach to well-being to address emergent issues and support both clinical and nonclinical teammates?

It's a really great question. When I think of that, I think of our first experience when we heard there was going to be a shortage. [We] already had about 800 peer supporters at that time, already had a cabinet of well-being per se, where we had mission spiritual care, ethics, and physician well-being leaders and nurse well-being leaders. And [we had] a number of other social determinants of health [leaders] already working on wellbeing related issues building this peer support, come together and say, “Okay, this is going to happen, we don't have any control of it. This will cause moral distress because we can’t do anything to effectively change that. How can we support our teams?”

The team with tremendous support from trauma-informed care and from ethics built a toolkit for leaders and for the teams locally. Then we had our mission and spiritual care team do rounds at different locations where specific cancer care was being impacted, allowing clinical and non-clinical people to receive support either directly from mission spiritual care, because they're already there, or to hear what other supports are available now that we had the peer support options and employee assistance program. That did a tremendous job offering support during that time. Basically, [we told] people this is what we're building, we understand that we cannot fix the drug shortage, it's a national problem. We understand it impacts your human ability to feel that what you came here to do, [what] you're able to deliver, and your moral distress. We understand that. And these are the ways that we can support you.

First, it's normal to feel the way that you feel. Second, these are the resources we offer for you and your teams and your patients. It doesn't matter how well-off they are. And these are the ways that we are going to get through together by supporting you, using the tools that we have as a huge organization that we are. Using social media, using our public affairs to popularize it even more, so that clinicians felt that we're delivering the message to patients and communities while supporting them. And nonclinicians felt that the organization as a whole is supportive.

We are not perfect; we have a lot of work to do. But that was a really good way for us to test our moral distress approaches. And we're going a lot farther with that, integrating it into the peer support and building ethics-based consultation service in moral distress-specific issues.

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