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Open Access Publications from the University of California

#WhyIDoIt: A Multidisciplinary Wellness Initiative in an Academic Emergency Department


Introduction: Healthcare clinicians in critical care settings such as the emergency department (ED) experience workplace stressors and are at high risk for burnout. This correlates with substance abuse, suicidality, career dissatisfaction, early retirement, and suboptimal patient care. Therefore, recognizing, and mitigating, burnout is critical to a healthcare worker’s health and wellbeing. While gratitude and positive psychology are shown to increase resilience and decrease burnout, no prior studies have examined specific ED care team motivators for continued career satisfaction and workplace engagement. To increase the wellness in our ED, we implemented a wellness initiative titled #WhyIDoIt. Our goal was to have all care team members share what motivates them to work in our ED.


Methods: Participants were asked what motivates them in the workplace. We gathered responses each February for three consecutive years, 2017-2019, at our academic Level I trauma center. Emergency department clinicians, nurses, and staff were recruited to participate at grand rounds, nursing huddles, and sign out. Participants self-selected to contribute by writing their response on a sticky note and posting it in the department. After three years of implementing this initiative, we analyzed the collected qualitative data using thematic analysis based on grounded theory. Submissions were subjectively categorized into initial themes and then reconciled into three overarching classifications.


Results: In total, we collected 149 responses. Themes included team work (35, 23.5%), pride in a unique skill set (26, 17.4%), helping patients in a time of need (26, 17.4%), teaching/learning opportunities (15,10.1%), humor and levity (14, 9.4%), building relationships with patients (11,7.4%), financial motivation (9, 6.0%), patient gratitude (7, 4.7%), and philosophical and moral motivators (6, 4.0%). These themes were reconciled into three overarching classifications including team-centered motivators

(76, 51%), patient-centered motivators (37, 24.8%), and reward-centered motivators (36, 24.2%).


Conclusion: Responses that showed the greatest motivator for ED clinicians and nurses were team-centered. This highlights the importance of relationship building and a sense of shared purpose and suggests that future workplace well-being initiatives should include strengthening and maintaining professional team relationships. [West J Emerg Med. 2022;22(X)X–X.]


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