Well-being Word

March 10, 2023

The Well-being Word

Importance of pressing pause
Erin Herrera, CRNA
Erin Herrera, CRNA
Associate Vice-Chair of Well-Being

Hello Friends,

We made it! Daylight Savings Time starts on Sunday, and the long, dark days of winter are finally behind us. As we begin this new season of growth and renewal, I want to discuss the importance of pressing pause.

For those of you who know me well, you are probably laughing because I am truly the absolute WORST at this—so to hear me talk about this topic seems rather hypocritical!

However, I have had two very introspective weeks. My father has been in the hospital, and I have had to take a very unexpected, and very real pause. Many of my work and home life obligations have come to a screeching halt. But you know what? The hospital did not implode because I didn’t check my email. Nobody cared that I canceled a few meetings. Although my house isn’t what I would call clean at the moment, my family is fed, and the laundry will get done eventually. I took a pause, and the world kept spinning. It made me realize how much self-imposed (and mostly unnecessary) stress I place on myself and how important it is to consistently assess my priorities.

This month, I want you to take a purposeful pause. Take a breath. Silence your phone for a day. Give yourself some time to acknowledge your feelings and emotions, and adjust your focus.

I promise the world will keep spinning while you do.

Much like seasons, we are all constantly changing. Our priorities, goals, and needs are all constantly developing and growing. We all need to take a pause and reflect, to make sure that we are creating space for new things, finding work-life balance, and reconnecting with friends and family.

Pausing is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

Yours in wellness,


Pump it up!

Have you checked out the new workout rooms yet? Whether you are looking for a sweat session or a stretch session, we have you covered! Our workout rooms are fully equipped with spin bikes, ellipticals, and treadmills for your cardio needs as well as free weights, kettlebell adaptors, resistance bands, and yoga mats.

Located at the School of Medicine campus in the Central West End:
1. South Campus — 2nd Floor Peters Office
2. PVT — 2nd Floor Anesthesiology Offices

More importantly, do you need some GUIDANCE?

Starting this month, we will be launching customized 15-minute total body workouts every other month. These workouts are specifically designed for our department, use minimal equipment, and are perfect for you to pop in and do before work, after work, during a break, or during a call shift. There’s no need to think and design your own workout; these preplanned workouts have you covered. Just pick up a weight and get to work!

For those of you working remotely or on other campuses, we have you covered too! We will be sending out a monthly video with workout content and form check each month, so you can join the departmental fitness fun from anywhere.

Do you have some equipment at home that you are not using and would like to donate? Do you have a great idea for a fitness-inspired event or competition? Let us know!  Movement of any kind is great not only for your physical health but your mental health as well. Add some movement to your day; you won’t regret it!

A Day in the Life

By: Tamanna Chang, MD

Our ‘Day in the Life’ this month features three of our former fellows, now attendings, who had to take an unexpected pause. Read about their hilarious madcap adventures trying to get back home from a conference after a canceled flight. These three friends made the best of the curveball life threw at them. They are the perfect example of how sometimes the support of friends, some quality bonding time, and an unexpected pause are just what the doctor orders for your well-being. 

A Day in the Life


It’s April 2022, and Megan, Jackie, and I are in Tampa, FL for the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia (SPA-AAP) Annual Meeting. All of our abstracts were accepted and we just completed our poster presentations! Time to relax and hit the spa. We called it “Spa at the SPA.” Clever, we know.

It’s now Saturday evening, and we are all enjoying a celebratory dinner with our WashU Pediatric Anesthesiology colleagues before we all fly back the next morning. We were having a wonderful time and were at the peak of merriment! What could possibly go wrong?

And that’s when it happened…*Ding, Ding, Ding* All of our phones pinged simultaneously like a scene straight out of Gossip Girl, “Your Southwest flight to St. Louis has been canceled.”

With not even a “xoxo” to follow, we went into full-blown panic mode. According to the Southwest app, the next flight available to return to St. Louis was in four days… We decided to all convene in one hotel room to discuss our game plan. For reference, it’s a 16-hour drive back to St. Louis from Tampa, FL…

Tamanna: I hate road trips. Driving is NOT an option. Absolutely not, I refuse to drive back.

Megan: Guys!! Trevor [Megan’s husband] has secured a rental car and we will be leaving first thing in the morning. Tamanna and Jackie, we have room for you guys. You in?

Tamanna: There is no way I am driving back to St. Louis *sense of impending doom sets in, still fully in denial*

Jackie: Absolutely, I’m in, Megan! Need to return to my doggy!

The next morning, we arrive at the Tampa airport so I could figure out an alternate flight method and for Megan and Jackie to pick up the rental car. As expected, I did not get an alternate flight… Megan and Jackie, fully expecting this, did not leave without me in the car. We three fellows and Trevor piled into the rental car, necessary Starbucks in hand, and we were off!

Tamanna: *Thinks I am being discrete whispering to my husband on the phone* “Babe, I’m going to die in this car.”

Megan: Tamanna, we can hear you!

Immediately, I voice that there is still time to return to the hotel and avoid the road trip. For the next several hours, I continue to look for flights to St. Louis from every major city we would pass through. Meanwhile…

Jackie/Megan: Oh, another one! Two…three, four!

Tamanna: *Briefly looks up from my frantic search for flights only to realize Megan and Jackie are spotting gators and we are still in the thick of the Florida swamps.*

It wasn’t until they crossed the border into Georgia that reality started to sink in. After no luck finding a flight out of Atlanta, I refocus my priorities.

Tamanna: OMG!! There’s a Chanel in Atlanta! We MUST stop in!

Trevor, the one currently driving and renowned for his efficiency, politely shuts me down. Starvation suddenly hits and nature is calling so the girls start the search for a gas station. A shriek of joy startles Trevor.

Jackie: *screaming* THERE IS A BUCCEE’S!

Megan/Tamanna/Trevor: What?

Jackie: ‘Buck’ *PAUSE* ‘Eez’

This is not helpful.

Jackie explains the legendary gas station chain located throughout Texas known for its pristine bathrooms, extensive jerky selection, coveted homemade fudge, and of course, the cutest beaver mascot. She is thrilled to discover there is a Buccee’s in another state and will NOT let it go. They must stop here, and after the third Buccee’s sign passing, Trevor couldn’t say no…also they needed to gas up.

They pull into the massive parking lot, overwhelmed by the number of gas pumps. Trevor fills up the car and the girls head in to explore. The smell of fresh jerky and sandwiches fills the air. The fudge is even more beautiful in person. They head to the bathrooms where they are greeted by sparkling floors and pristine condition, further enchanted by the floor-to-ceiling stall doors. Jackie’s testaments lived up to the hype.

The group piles back into the car, and again, reality sets in. At this point, we would still have to drive through the night and would not arrive to St. Louis until approximately 4:00 a.m. on Monday morning. I finally decide to be helpful realizing we will be driving directly through Nashville where my parents reside. My parents were happy to suggest the whole crew stay overnight at their house and continue the rest of the drive the next morning, complete with a home-cooked dinner and extensive breakfast spread. The next morning, after a good night’s sleep and a warm shower, the team was ready to hit the road again. Trevor was taking a few extra minutes to sleep while the girls are eating breakfast.

Jackie: *at the breakfast table* We’re not missing anyone, this is all of us, right?

Megan/Tamanna: …No, Jackie, Trevor is still sleeping!!

All three of us burst into laughter immediately. I mean, if it weren’t for Trevor, we literally would not have made it this far. Clearly, we are still delirious and in need of more coffee. Renewed and re-energized, we hit the road again… Don’t worry, we did not forget Trevor! Jackie and I split the rest of the drive to St. Louis singing to Shania Twain and Luke Bryan, including a front seat performance of “Man, I feel like a woman” and “Country Girl, Shake it for me.” (Trevor wishes he had been left at this point in the road trip).

Finally, around noon on Monday, the group is greeted by the Gateway Arch! The car exploded with cheers. Never have we ever been more excited to see this famous landmark. Throughout what had been a fairly busy and taxing fellowship year, Jackie, Megan, and I have always remained team players and always willing to help and support each other. Everyone thought there was no way we could possibly get any closer… Needless to say, after this nearly 36-hour journey full of desperation, doom, disaster, and extremely close quarters in combination with extremely small bladders, we proved we could indeed get closer. Not only did this road trip create endless and hilarious memories, but Megan, Jackie, and I could not be more thankful to have each other along for the ride! (Oh, and Trevor too!!)

Taking time to pause & serve others

Many of our team members are passionate about medical missions and have spent time in other countries this year helping with various surgeries and procedures.

The first team went with Surgical Outreach for Americas (SOfA). They helped with hernia surgeries (inguinal, umbilical) and hydroceles. This year, they operated on 74 adults and children for a total of 86 procedures.

“These mission trips always make me so humble and force me to appreciate what we have here in the US,” says Gosia Borchardt, CRNA. “I always come home with a full heart after having helped so many people who would not be able to get their hernias fixed otherwise!”

The second team went with the International Medical Assistance Foundation (IMAF) to Honduras. They saw over 100 women & children in the clinic and performed roughly 30 surgical procedures and anesthetics ranging from total abdominal hysterectomies and myomectomies to removing ovarian cysts and tumors.

“Serving the women of Honduras was one of the most humbling experiences as a CRNA.  These women are true warriors having major abdominal surgeries and receiving only a fraction of the medications, in comparison to patients here in the US,” says Julia Merlo, CRNA. The women were so appreciative of our care. It was truly a heartwarming and humbling experience as an anesthesia provider.”

Tired of not getting enough good quality sleep?

It’s most likely affecting your physical and mental health as well as how you are showing up professionally and personally in your life. Let’s all start building better sleep habits together. Here are some recommendations from Calm’s sleep categories that you can use anytime, anywhere:


What is a PIA SAFE Champion?

Interested in joining PIA SAFE?

Our spring retreat is April 22, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Check out the PIA SAFE website to learn more! And be sure to click on the link below to read the latest PIA SAFE newsletter.