Well-being Word

May 19, 2023

The Well-being Word

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

In honor of the NBA playoffs, I ask you an important question this month.  “When do you ask for the ball?”

We all bring a myriad of individual strengths to a team, but what makes a team really strong is knowing the strengths of each of the players. A winning team knows when to pass the ball, who is most important during a certain play, and how to identify who is the right person to take the shot. Equally important, however, is knowing YOUR strengths and knowing when to ask for the ball to be passed to YOU!

So why am I talking about personal strengths in a well-being newsletter? Well-being is improved when you use your unique strengths every day.

  • Using our strengths is a good buffer to burn out.
  • People who routinely use their strengths at work are 3x as likely to report they have an excellent quality of life.
  • They are 6x as likely to be engaged at their jobs.

It is so important for us all to identify what our personal strengths are! Sometimes our strengths are so much a part of us, you don’t even realize it’s there.

  • Are you great at connecting people and organizing social functions for your team?
  • Do you bring a contagiously positive attitude to a group and naturally lift the spirits of those around you?
  • Do you have a great sense of empathy and know just when a co-worker needs support?
  • Are you a natural problem solver and instinctively think of new and innovative solutions?
  • Are you meticulously organized and bring order and insight to projects?
  • When are you calling for the ball?

We are getting ready to launch some very exciting programming here in the department to help us all better understand our own individual strengths and how we can translate those unique aspects of ourselves to improve well-being and personal and professional success.

Next month we will launch a new podcast series exploring some of the many personal attributes that make us uniquely successful and how to use the individual attributes of others best to develop team excellence. The first area we will be exploring is Introvert vs. Extrovert!

We will also launch training and coaching in the CliftonStrengths system to help us identify and name our personal strengths, and how we can aim those strengths to make meaningful and unique contributions and accomplish what is most important to us. Stay tuned!

To end this newsletter with another basketball analogy, the best part of being part of a team is that we don’t all need to be perfectly, well-rounded circular basketballs. Rather we can be stars, each with well-defined and unique strengths as our points. We just need to find complementary stars in our partners and team members to round each other out.

I look forward to exploring the strengths of our amazing, diverse, and talented team!

Yours in wellness,


A Day in the Life of Paige Cardoza, PA-C

Paige is originally from Sullivan, MO, and earned her undergraduate degree in biology from Columbia College. She started her career in healthcare in 2017 as a patient care technician at BJH in the ED to gain experience for physician assistant school. During her clinical training as a PA, she rotated through the SICU and was able to join the WashU APP group after graduating from SLU in December 2022. Read about her day in the life, below!

A Day in the Life of Paige Cardoza, PA-C

5:00 a.m: Alarm goes off, and Sawyer (my pit/lab mix) ensures I wake up for work! I just started my job 13 weeks ago, and I am getting close to the end of orientation. Wouldn’t want to be late!

I quickly get ready for work, feed the pup, and quietly tell my husband, Nick, goodbye.

6:00 a.m: Time for sign-out! I am scheduled to work in “4400,” the Surgical/Trauma ICU this morning. I am training with Alex, one of the nurse practitioners. We receive sign-out on six patients from our night colleague, Jeanette, to learn about each patient’s background, active medical problems, and potential plans like surgery. After sign-out I walk around the unit to introduce myself to the patients, families, and nurses. I also perform physical exams and gather information on the patients.

8:00 a.m: Time for rounds! In the ICU, we have multidisciplinary rounds, which is great, and a little crowded in the halls sometimes. During rounds, we have an attending physician, a fellow, 1-2 residents, 1-2 APPs, a few medical students, a pharmacist, a dietician, and a few nurses present. Presenting patients can be intimidating at first, but it is great to see our team’s different perspectives and develop a plan for progressing our patients’ care. During rounds, different surgical and medical services weigh in on their recommendations.

12:00 p.m: Rounds are finished, and my coffee cup is empty—time for a refill! The afternoon consists of making multiple visits to follow up with the patients and nurses throughout the day, calling consults, following up on existing consults, and lots of charting. Somewhere between all this, I eat the salad my husband helped me prepare the night before. As time permits throughout the day, I engage in mini-education sessions with my preceptor, the fellow, and attending. Today we learned about ROTEM in an actively bleeding patient.

4:00 p.m: We just transferred a patient out of the ICU to the floor! As soon as they left, the charge nurse and fellow notified me and Alex that we will be receiving a patient from the OR. Before they are admitted to the ICU, I take time to look them up in the EMR and learn about their history, what surgery they are having, how surgery is progressing, develop a plan, and anticipate post-op care or complications that could arise. Once they are here and we have addressed immediate issues, I place their admit orders and, you guessed it, more charting!

6:00p.m: Whew! Long day. Time for sign-out. Luckily, Jeanette is back again tonight, and since she’s already familiar with the patients, sign-out only takes about 25 minutes.

After sign-out, I get home and make dinner with my husband (we are having Italian, our favorite). Then, we take Sawyer on a short walk around the neighborhood. It is already 8:30 p.m. and close to my bedtime. Time to get ready for bed and do it all over again! Just two more shifts left this week, then we are headed out of town to visit with family, and maybe fit in a hike.

What’s new with our APPs?

APPs now have an Instagram page where they share happenings, educational info, volunteer and social opportunities as well as events in STL. Be sure to check it out & give them a follow!

The community engagement committee, led by Teresa Hammann, recently hosted a trivia night benefiting Angel’s Arm. This year the group has also volunteered with the International Institute of St. Louis. And just last week APPs assisted at Stay Rescue, including walking dogs, cleaning, and organizing donation supplies.

APPs are staying connected with various activities hosted throughout the year. Some activities they have offered include boards and boards (charcuterie and games), ice skating, skiing, and happy hours!


St. Louis Pride Festival & Parade

The “Diversity Creates Community” St. Louis Pride Festival & Parade will take place on Sunday, June 25 from 10:00am-2:00pm. Sponsored by WashU OUTmed, this event provides a fantastic opportunity for us to come together as a department to celebrate and support our LGBTQIA+ community. Learn more about the event, volunteer opportunities, and RSVP today!

Pride Lapel Pins – Now available!

Our department has teamed up with the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion to provide complimentary lapel pins to department members! These pins are a simple but powerful way to demonstrate our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Available in limited quantities on a first-come, first-served basis, interested parties should contact Lauren LaChance to coordinate a time to pick them up from the NWT.

WUDA Parents Community

Anita Zimmerman & Whitney Payne are hard at work creating a community for WUDA parents where members can browse resources, post events, and more. Keep an eye out for an email with more information.

May workout is here!

Thanks to Personal Space Fitness, we have personalized workout content just for members of WUDA! The workouts are posted in the fitness rooms and also on our Youtube playlist.

PIA SAFE Champions

We hosted our spring retreat on April 22 and we now have over 50 PIA SAFE Champions! Learn more about PIA SAFE, meet our newest champions, and sign up to be a champion, here.

Reduce anxiety with Calm

Some occasional stress is a normal part of life, but when we experience high, prolonged stress, our nervous system gets stuck in “overdrive.” Our bodies and minds need time to recover after stressful experiences. We encourage you to try one of these mindfulness tools from Calm, our partner in mental well-being, to help ease feelings of stress and anxiety:

Here are some recommendations from Calm, our mental health partner, that you can do in anytime, anywhere: 

Anxiety Release: Whether you have 10, 20, or 30 minutes, try this guided meditation practice to release the mental and emotional energy of anxiety. 

Softening Anxiety: Lessen your anxiety and feel more centered by doing a few stretches in a seated position, all in 7 minutes. 

Calm Your Heart With Deeper Breaths: Use this 3-minute guided exercise to quickly calm down when experiencing panic or anxiety. 

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Task Force on Climate & Culture: Catalyst Inclusion Accelerator Survey

In early June, all faculty, staff, students, and trainees at the School of Medicine will receive an important survey via email. It should take about 15 minutes to complete. Your response will help determine where the WashU Medicine culture is strong and where it needs improvement.