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Urology for Social Responsibility meeting highlights wellness and burnout

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"I think it's important to realize we're not one-dimensional, that even if we have our day job as urologists, a lot of these things affect us," says Diana Londoño, MD.

The Urology for Social Responsibility meeting took place on January 14-15, 2023 in San Diego, California. In this interview, Diana Londoño, MD, recaps the discussions from the meeting on wellness and burnout, for which she served as a panel member. Londoño is a urologist at City of Hope in Duarte, California as well as a certified life coach.

"We're hoping to come up with some ideas of what we can do going forward, and definitely expand this in the future for more people that want to be involved," said Dr. Londoño.

"We're hoping to come up with some ideas of what we can do going forward, and definitely expand this in the future for more people that want to be involved," said Dr. Londoño.

Could you give an overview of the Urology for Social Responsibility meeting?

The Urology for Social Responsibility meeting was to come together, both with urologists and other people in different fields, to talk about issues that affect us globally, nationally, and as a specialty. [We were] trying to think about how we fit into this greater realm, and what things we can do to make sure there's equity, wellness, or sustainability. [We were] trying to bring different minds together to tackle these difficult issues, and maybe come up with some solutions and strategies of how to go about this.

You were a part of a few discussions on wellness and burnout at the meeting. Could you highlight some of the key takeaways from those talks?

What came out of that meeting was looking at wellness and burnout as a preventive thing. Many times we are looking at it once we are already there, but [it's important to] look at what strategies can we do for prevention, how to recognize when we are going through it, and some things that we can do to get out of it and get better, as well as reducing the stigma of wellness.

I think it was also important to understand what can be done as an infrastructure from the leadership standpoint. That really comes back to asking the group, the physicians, what do they need, because it may be very different for different specialties or different hospital settings. Just understanding what is needed, and then try to tackle those needs to help, because it may be different for each situation. It may be a call issue, [or] it may be how things are scheduled. Many things can come into play that can affect how people are feeling and their well-being. So really trying to address all those issues from the self to more of a leadership standpoint, what can we do?

You also led a session called ‘Rise Up.’ Could you discuss what that was?

It was a closing discussion. It was coming together to discuss why this was done, and understanding that no matter what, we all have a voice, and we all have a choice, as well. Sometimes doing nothing is also definitely a choice. So understanding, we have a voice to talk about this to make changes to really be the culture of medicine we want to be. We have a choice to do something or stand back or not do anything.

We're stronger together. When we come together, one as physicians, and we also bring other people from different fields to look at these issues in different ways to come up with solutions. Many times we may be looking at things in a certain way, but other people in other fields that are into advocacy, or in school systems can tell us how it is affecting them as well, some of these issues we're discussing. We can come up with solutions and how we can collaborate, and it's just bringing people from different fields to have better ideas on how we can tackle this.

What progress are you hoping to see come out of this meeting going forward?

We're hoping to come up with some ideas of what we can do going forward, and definitely expand this in the future for more people that want to be involved and start doing some actionable items of things we can do. A lot of this was truly about getting a feel of the idea of what's going on.

What can we do? What have we experienced? And a little bit of awareness of what are we seeing? What can we do? We came up at the end of the sessions with some actionable items on what can we do and going forward, how can we continue to develop this or grow it or rally more people together on some of these issues.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I think it's important to realize we're not one-dimensional, that even if we have our day job as urologists, a lot of these things affect us. We're all leaders. Something that I came out with from the meeting was about the value of sustainability in the operating room or waste, or how we can be better at not wasting even simple things like sutures or any equipment. Many times, we think "just open it." [We need to] be more mindful of things that we ask in the operating room to open, or that can be saved or not wasted, or recycled, or repurposed, or even how we put everything in certain bins or bags, and how that gets processed.

We tend to not think about it, but I think those are easy things we could do, that can really make an impact long-term. Having an awareness that we do, as surgeons, have the power to say what things we want to open or not, what things could be more cost saving, and [have] a greater impact for the environment.

Understanding the impact of wellness, the impact of all the -isms, racism, sexism, and how we can, like I said, have a voice and speak up when we're seeing this to change the culture and make it more sustainable, and that it’s coming from love and it's coming from taking care of each other.

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