Well-being Word

December 2, 2022

The Well-being Word

December 2, 2022

Erin Herrera, CRNA
Erin Herrera, CRNA
Associate Vice-Chair of Well-Being

Hello friends, 

There are few things that can improve culture more than creating an environment where frequent and consistent feedback is part of daily life. The problem is: feedback is tricky. It requires courage, vulnerability, and openness. It requires you to sometimes be uncomfortable and occasionally even scared. However, correctly delivered feedback is a radical act of caring!

Feedback can help us challenge assumptions.

Feedback creates a culture of open dialogue and psychological safety.

Feedback creates a community of upstanders.

Providing feedback is an opportunity to give recognition, show commitment to learning, and help teammates find growth opportunities and success! Receiving and delivering feedback is an art, and is a critical part of learning!

There are a few important elements to remember when you are giving and receiving feedback:

  • What is your intent in delivering the feedback? Is your intent to truly help the person in their growth and development?
  • Is the person at a place where they are ready and open to receiving feedback? Asking the simple question of “are you in a place to receive feedback right now?” goes a long way. They may not be in a mental place to receive and process feedback. They may prefer to wait until the end of the day to circle back and receive feedback. For others receiving it in the moment is super helpful. It’s important to always ask the question to make the other person feel safe. Understanding HOW and WHEN people prefer feedback is critically important!

Receiving feedback also is an important skill to hone in yourself. How do YOU prefer to receive feedback?

Have I given feedback and then immediately realized that it landed wrong? ABSOLUTELY! Many times! Have I RECEIVED feedback and not responded gracefully? Oh yea, 100%. It’s human nature to get defensive when receiving feedback! Giving AND receiving feedback requires practice and repetition.

When you foster a culture where positive feedback is frequent, trusting relationships are forged. When the time comes that you need to deliver feedback on an area of improvement or opportunity, they know that you are coming with their best interests at heart and genuinely want them to succeed and improve.

I have two challenges for you this month.

  1. Practice with positive feedback! Find an opportunity to give some positive feedback to a coworker this week
  2. Think about how YOU prefer to receive feedback.

Here in the Department of Anesthesiology, we strive each day to foster minds and hearts that are open to change as well as promote a growth mindset in our team, where folks strive to relish feedback as an opportunity to consistently grow and improve!

Yours in wellness,


Do you want to learn more and improve your skills in delivering and receiving feedback? Join our team of PIA SAFE champions! We are putting in the work of learning about feedback, upstanding, and many other skills to elevate and enhance our culture! Come join the movement! Go to the PIA SAFE website to learn more about what a PIA SAFE champion does, how you can contact one, and what it entails to become one!

MoBOT Therapeutic Horticulture Event

Wednesday, December 21
7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Peter’s Lounge — 2nd Floor

Come learn about the therapeutic aspects of nature & make a greenery arrangement to bring home!

Women of WUDA

Saturday, February 4
8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Wild Carrot

This retreat will be an incredible morning of women-focused professional development, wellness activities, and networking opportunities.

A Day in the Life of Waliah RaKhem, CRA

Waliah is originally from St. Louis, MO, and earned her undergraduate degree from Drake University and graduate degree from Washington University. She started her career at Washington University in 2002 in the Sponsored Projects Accounting Office as a Grants Analyst and went on to hold various roles in the Office of Sponsored Research Services and the Department of Pediatrics. She is now the senior research administrator for the department in the research division.

A Day in the Life: Waliah RaKhem

Waliah is originally from St. Louis, MO, and earned her undergraduate degree from Drake University and graduate degree from Washington University. She started her career at Washington University in 2002 in the Sponsored Projects Accounting Office as a Grants Analyst and went on to hold various roles in the Office of Sponsored Research Services and the Department of Pediatrics. She is now the senior research administrator for the department in the research division.

4:30 AM — Parker meows me awake after making sure all 16 pounds of his body weight are on my belly. It is time for me to get up and feed the cat. I settle down after filling his bowl and refreshing his water. Working from home is a definite privilege that I can truly appreciate after working at Washington University for over 20 years. Although I only live ten minutes away from the Medical School campus in University City, morning traffic on Forest Park Parkway is always a bear. I am thankful I do not have to face it every day.

8:00 AM — Time for coffee from my favorite coffee shop: Kaldi’s on Skinker. It is nice to see the regulars, patrons, and baristas. The baristas are more than familiar with my regular order. Quadruple shot vanilla latte extra sweet. It gets me alert and going for the day. I come home to respond to SLACK messages, email messages, and of course, to review any proposal budgets in the queue. We have the best team in Research Administration in Anesthesiology. We laugh, converse, and connect all day through every channel we can. It is great considering we hardly ever see each other in person, but we learn a lot about each other and get closer every day.

My days consist of answering questions about proposals, helping teammates with questions about proposals, and asking questions about proposals. It is all about proposals, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Once all of the questions are answered and the emails are responded to, I log back off to make sure Parker is fed (albeit he is usually fed a few times during the day) and check in with my significant other, Vince.

We’re getting our weekend plans together. Whether it’s going to a winery, a new restaurant, traveling to a different city, or just checking out a local event, we try to do something every weekend. We both have adult children, so now is the time to rediscover St. Louis and dive into those hobbies that we put on hold during our years of child rearing. He has a 27-year-old daughter finishing her PhD at SLU and I have a 22-year-old son making a new life in Baltimore, MD. Mostly done, but always parents.

On any particular weekend, we may have brunch at Half and Half in Clayton (my favorite brunch spot), visit a new spot across the river in Illinois, or take off for a weekend to discover someplace new. This day, we are planning on going to Tumeric in the Loop—my favorite Indian restaurant and my idea of complete comfort food. Summers you can find us grilling every Wednesday. We invite friends and family over so that everyone can enjoy the smoked chicken, fish, steak, and veggies. Fall grilling includes a bonfire, but we make sure to always involve people we love.

Our adventures…

Enough about my adventures as a wanna-be foodie… Working in Research Administration has been such a great job. Now I get the honor of being an Equity Champion. Diversity and Inclusion has always been something close to my heart.  Raised as a Muslim and a Black woman, I feel like I have been fighting for equity as early as I can remember. It’s been such an inspiration to me to be a part of an institution that has made it part of its mission to acknowledge its part in inequities encountered in St. Louis and to intentionally make sure those inequities are remedied. I’m looking forward to providing a means for those disenfranchised here at the university to make their voices heard.  It’s an exciting endeavor! There is so much work to be done and so much support available. This has been the best time of my career here at Washington University and I am so excited for more!

Anesthesia Humanities Journal

This journal will be a forum for the trainees in our department to explore their creative side. We welcome all types of submissions including writing, art, music, or whatever sparks your creative senses. This journal is meant to be a showcase of the many talents of our trainees and also a place to consider the role of the humanities in our world. Art fosters communication, happiness, and resiliency, and adds interest and fun to our lives. We welcome all submissions and will publish our first edition in the spring of 2023. Please see the call for submissions below and consider participating.

Call for Submissions

The Anesthesia Humanities Journal is dedicated to supporting our WashU Anesthesia community, including residents, fellows, and SRNAs in exploring the impact of art in all its forms on the healing profession. We invite you to share your work with our community in our journal as well as at our unveiling event (date TBD). Please plan to submit your work for consideration for inclusion in this inaugural edition (see below for directions) by March 1st, 2023

  • Poetry: Poetry of all types is welcome.
  • Short Prose: Short-form prose that might capture things including an interaction with a patient or a personal moment reflecting on your educational journey.
  • Music: We will accept all forms of music submissions, including audio files for songs. Audio files will be embedded with the digital version of the journal.
  • Art: This includes visual arts including photos, paintings, sculptures, and/or crafts. If you are interested in submitting a three-dimensional work, we can set the piece up for display during our unveiling event. If we do so, please bring the relevant materials for display and let us know your space requirements in advance, so we can best support your display.
  • Other: If you are interested in submitting a work that does not fit into one of the outlined categories, we still welcome your submission and encourage you to submit through the “Other” category.

Submission Process: All submissions will be reviewed by our editorial board for grammar, clarity, and HIPAA security. Therefore, for the initial review process, we will require that all pieces are submitted with the individual’s name. However, authors will have the option of publishing their pieces anonymously.

To submit your piece for consideration, please complete this form.

Questions: Please contact Archana Bharadwaj (archanab@wustl.edu) or Dr. Molly McCormick (mccormim@wustl.edu) with questions.

We look forward to reviewing your submissions!

Holiday Outreach Program

The Holiday Outreach Program, also known as Adopt-a-Family, is an annual community outreach initiative coordinated by the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation (WUMCRC) which creates meaningful opportunities for departments at WashU, BJC, and SLCH to help stabilize neighborhoods surrounding the medical campus by assisting families in need.

This year, we have adopted three local families with a goal of raising $10,000 to assist them with utilities, groceries, and more. The last day to donate is Saturday, December 10!

Practicing Radical Self-Care

Self-care is a mindfulness practice that can enhance our view of ourselves, our emotions, and others around us. In Calm, your resource for mental well-being and self-care, try this program to bring a little more self-care into your life:

  • Learn meditation and self-care basics from author and meditation teacher Lama Rod Owens in the 10 Days of Radical Self-Care series — each day is about 10 minutes long
  • Use the accompanying workbook to reflect on your meditations and reinforce what you learn

Champions Corner