Well-being Word

November 4, 2022

The Well-being Word

November 4, 2022

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

Hello friends, 

It is important that even on our hardest days, we take time to find joy. Even if it is something small, finding moments of joy and pride each day in what we do is vital for our well-being.

Much like negative energy is contagious, positive energy is contagious. A positive healthy culture starts with a positive attitude. This month, rather than sharing words with you, I want to share some photos below. I hope that you can look at these wonderful, joyful photos of members of our department and not only share in their joy, but also appreciate the wonderful, diverse department we work in. The people of WUDA are what make this department so special and I hope that even on your hardest days you can find joy, humor, and pride with those you work with.

I have two challenges for you this week:

  1. Pause and think about the energy you bring to work and how that affects the people around you. Are you someone who others look to as a source of joy and happiness, or someone who negatively impacts the energy of those around them?
  2. How did you find joy in your work today?

Yours in wellness,


Erin Wood

A Day in the Life of Erin Wood

Residency Program Coordinator, Erin Wood, gives a snapshot of the day-to-day operations of the residency program, and how she supports the WU Scholar and ASAP research trainees as they navigate their dreams of becoming physician-scientists.

Day in the Life: Erin Wood

Thermos of coffee in hand, I dash up the street to my nearest bus stop to catch the 7:45 a.m. for a trip downtown to the Civic Center, where I grab the Metro to the heart of campus. Mornings on public transit tend to be quiet affairs, with a mix of families taking kids to appointments, professionals headed to the office, and older folks on their way to do the weekly shop. It has become a soothing ritual to wave & nod to the regulars and watch the city wake up outside the bus window. Pro tip – download the free Transit app to get real-time status updates and stop reminders while using STL Public Transport!

My office is located in the newly renovated Northwest Tower suite, which is slowly becoming a “happening hub” as team members return to the office. Although the overall formula for the day is the same, there’s no telling what might come my way. Right now it is interview season for our residency program so it’s all hands on deck to prepare and send out interview materials, organize schedules, and respond to a high volume of applicant outreach.

When not knee-deep in emails, I’m often working with one of our two new education team members. It takes a full academic year for new coordinators to see everything, and there tends to be a lot of nuance to all that they do. We have a lot of teaching moments, liberally sprinkled with laughter and the occasional groan of commiseration.

My favorite part of any day though is when a trainee or faculty member stops by to say hello. Invariably, we end up discussing something that leads to improvements in the residency. For example – an impromptu chat with a resident led to the realization that the trainees didn’t have all the information about how our faculty feedback system works. Our team has worked hard to clearly communicate about the process in recent weeks, and we’re now seeing an unprecedented uptick in constructive and positive feedback for our teaching faculty. I’m very excited to see the innovations in education that will undoubtedly arise from this change!

The end of the workday is simply a transition to the other chapters in my life; a lively ride home on the bus and catching up with my husband over dinner before starting the next thing. I’m an assistant scoutmaster for a local BSA troop, so on Tuesday nights I can usually be found supporting our girls’ patrol as they plan their next hiking or camping adventure (Philmont bound – 2024!)

Beyond scouting, many nights are spent working on what my husband and I refer to as our “adventure of a lifetime” – an 1890’s three-story brick home that needs a lot of love. Our latest project is peeling back layers of dropped ceilings and vinyl floors to expose the original architecture, and finding hidden gems like original windows and gas-light fixtures along the way! We’re doing most of the work ourselves and challenging ourselves to “reduce, reuse, recycle” materials where possible, which means a lot of date nights shopping for reclaimed flooring and light fixtures at Refab STL. Check back in a year and see how things are going!

I joined the Residency team in February of 2019. New to Graduate Medical Education (and the healthcare field in general) I wasn’t sure what to expect. Almost four years in and every day still brings new and interesting challenges – I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Champions Corner


My name is Sarah Jaber. I’m an Acute Care NP working mainly in the surgical/trauma ICU & also cover the CTI, 7800 SICU, and EICU. I have been working at Washu for over seven years now and love it, and recently graduated with my doctorate (DNP)! I have one cat and one dog, am currently rehabbing my house, love staying active, and love to travel!

My current goals as a wellness champion would consist of:

  1. bringing more attention to physical and mental health
  2. Identifying active issues related to our workspace, life, current events, etc.

I am always open for conversation with anyone who wants to talk or reach out!

I’m Alex Shero and I have been a nurse practitioner with the SICU for almost four years.

My goals as a wellness champion are:

  1. Focusing on how to make individuals in our department feel included in our group
  2. Participating in regular self-care
  3. Finding new resources to promote mental health.

I am excited to support our hard-working APPs with social and wellness opportunities!

Equity Champions
Shawn Reynolds MSPA PA-C, Waliah S. RaKhem, CRA , Amira Hodzic

Washington University School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) recently completed its third cohort of Equity Champions training across the WashU campus. During this training, the Department of Anesthesiology was represented by three amazing members who will serve a pivotal role to develop and sustain a fair, equitable, inclusive, and welcoming culture in Anesthesiology.

Congratulations to Amira, Waliah, and Shawn for their commitment to the department in this manner! They just completed 40 hours of intense, comprehensive training in key and salient topics in diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are thrilled to have them working with the ODEI as well as our departments own POWER office (Professional Development, Opportunity, Wellness, Equity, and Relatable Diversity) with Scott Markowitz, Enyo Ablordeppey, and Erin Herrera.


Have you implemented NameCoach into your email signature?

This new tool allows you to record and share the pronunciation of your name with others. You can also add it to your LinkedIn and social media channels!

Holiday Outreach Program

Also known as Adopt-a-Family, is an annual community outreach initiative 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. More information to come soon!

Getting distracted or interrupted?

Our attention is a precious resource, but between our phones, last-minute requests, and our personal lives, it can be hard to stay focused. Try using one of these resources from Calm to get into the zone and build the mental resilience to perform your best at work:

  • Listen to 7 Days of Focus to reduce mind-wandering and overcome distractions
  • Get into the zone with music: Try playlists like Deep Focus or Work Flow
  • Use this Body Scan meditation to quickly calm a racing mind and find focus

Happy Halloween!