Wellness coordinator will help students manage stress

by Karen Burbach, UNMC public relations | December 18, 2015

Image with caption: Jennifer Yalof, Psy.D.

Jennifer Yalof, Psy.D.

Stress is part of life, but UNMC students and residents now have a dedicated resource to better help them navigate the stresses associated with health care education and training.

Following a national search, UNMC has hired Jennifer Yalof, Psy.D., to serve as wellness coordinator -- a new faculty appointment within the department of psychiatry.

Beginning this month, Dr. Yalof will help coordinate wellness activities and will deliver proactive stress management education to students and residents in all UNMC colleges. As a faculty member, she also will assist UNMC in making wellness activities part of the curriculum.

"We're very pleased to have Dr. Yalof join us as we consciously raise awareness on stress and the emotional well-being of our students," said Steven Wengel, M.D., chair of the department of psychiatry.

Dr. Yalof initially will survey students to better assess their needs, as well as UNMC's existing programs. She plans to meet regularly with students to provide education on stress management techniques, as well as focus on such goals as increasing mental health awareness, reducing unhealthy chronic stress, enhancing resiliency and facilitating peak performance. Outreach to UNMC faculty and staff will be provided over time.

Symposium in January

Dr. Yalof's position is part of UNMC's campuswide initiative to reduce the outcome and stigma associated with stress, burnout and mental illness, and provide services to those experiencing distress. Faculty, staff and students also are invited Jan. 26-27 to attend a free, on-campus symposium titled "Elevating the Conversation: Stress and Emotional Well-Being," which will feature four national speakers.

"It's known nationally that the pace of change in health care has increased stress levels for all providers," Dr. Wengel said. "We want students to know it's OK to admit you're stressed."

In fact, Dr. Wengel said a department elective on stress management generated interest from 70 UNMC medical students in its first year alone. "It's the most popular elective we've ever offered in our department."

Dr. Wengel thanked UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., and College of Medicine Dean Bradley Britigan, M.D., for their support of the new position. "Our leadership team has made creation of this position a priority," Dr. Wengel said. "They want to make sure our students and residents are given every opportunity to succeed in their education and training, not to mention giving them tools that will help them maintain healthy habits in their future careers."

Dr. Yalof will collaborate with David Carver, Ph.D., director of UNMC's Counseling and Student Development Center. Dr. Carver and his team will remain the go-to resources for confidential student counseling.

"Dr. Yalof will enhance and expand our outreach efforts to new and larger audiences," Dr. Carver said. "She also will help us to promote greater awareness and utilization of our existing confidential counseling services. I look forward to collaborating with her on these crucial wellness initiatives."

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R.Olesh,MD
December 18, 2015 at 12:26 PM

My opinion is that one needs to try to identify why medicine is causing more stress and burnout for students and staff now, and try to correct that. Stress reduction techniques and resiliency training does not fix the root of the problem. It only tries to lessens the negative emotional effects of the inciting problems. Bob Olesh