In a world where health professionals struggle with mental exhaustion and burnout, this fall KCU will introduce a new program to help its students and future health professional thrive.
A global pandemic coupled with social unrest has impacted nearly every aspect of our daily lives and especially brought into focus the already troubling issue of burnout within the health care professions. Unless measures are employed to address the mental wellbeing of our health-care providers, there may be devastating consequences for those in the profession and for society in general.
Kansas City University developed a new Thrive Program, designed to teach, coach and connect future health-care professionals with the goal to strengthen resilience, reduce burnout, and facilitate social belonging.
Thrive, supported by a $1.6 million federal grant awarded KCU by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), will bring together inter-disciplinary KCU faculty, staff and students to activate resources, expertise and competencies in the areas of psychology, curriculum, mentorship, technology and data and analysis. The two-component program will individually empower students and build skills that are not found in a traditional health sciences education.
“I really believe what we are doing with the Thrive Program is a differentiator for KCU. We are taking the best of what’s already here - leveraging expertise from our Health Services Psychology Department, Advising and Student Services, and the leadership from all of our programs - to provide a supportive environment where students can succeed,” said Carlton Abner, DPN, associate provost for Campus Health and Wellness . “Our students will have more resources to help them achieve their academic goals and then graduate with enhanced skills that will continue to support them throughout their lives.”.
The two core components, curriculum and connections, are cohesively integrated into the experience of first-year College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM), College of Biosciences (COB) and Health Services Psychology (PsyD) students. The curriculum component consists of eight modules delivered over two days during new student orientation. These modules incorporate evidence-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness principles that help shift maladaptive responses and teach students resilience and coping skills. New Student Orientation during the 2022-23 academic year will incorporate the roll-out of the pilot program for approximately 450 incoming students on KCU’s two campuses in Kansas City and Joplin, Mo. - 430 COM students and 25 PsyD students. Another 100-120 students from COB will receive an abbreviated version of the content.
Thrive’s second component emphasizing connections will happen throughout the student journey at KCU. Coaching, the use of connective technology and group activities will cultivate the importance of building and expanding one's in-person social networks, peer connections and mentoring opportunities. Developing and maintaining connections and community-building are skill sets more likely to help our future health-care professionals persevere in challenging environments.
The success of Thrive will be measured by collecting quantifiable data for analysis in addition to gathering qualitative data from the student experience. The data collected will help to inform an agile, iterative approach to future Thrive program changes and improvements that will most effectively enhance the skills of KCU students and enable them to thrive in their futures rather than to merely survive.