Finding the Baylor well-being program that is right for you

There are multiple initiatives at Baylor College of Medicine aimed at helping employees, faculty trainees and students lead healthier lives, and many fall under the umbrella of BCM Well-Being, Baylor’s centralized internal function for primary well-being initiatives.

BCM Wellness 5K on Oct. 28, 2022.

BCM Wellness 5K on Oct. 22, 2022.

Under BCM Well-Being is BCM BeWell for benefits-eligible employees, including residents, fellows and other trainees, and their spouses, and BCM LIFE for students from all four schools. The BCM Well-Being Center, formerly known as the BCM Gym, is a paid membership facility for employees and students at Baylor.

Housed under Human Resources, BCM Well-Being is a multifaceted resource for wellness at Baylor, said Charlotte Anderson, well-being manager for BCM BeWell and BCM Life. Anderson has worked for Baylor since 2016.

“We wanted to offer programs that encourage and support all faculty, staff research postdoctoral appointments, residents, clinical postdoctoral fellows and students,” Anderson said.

In October, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released new guidelines for workplace mental health, including survey results on workers’ mental health and burnout.

According to the report, 76% of U.S. workers reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition while 84% of respondents said workplace conditions had contributed to a mental health condition. More than 80% of workers surveyed said they are looking for workplaces that support mental health.

“Focusing on enhancing the employee/student experience of everyone at Baylor is extremely important,” Anderson said. “Even before (Murthy) published these priorities, we were using evidence-based practices and current research to reduce burnout and improve job satisfaction.”

More than 1,600 students and 11,000 Baylor employees qualify for resources provided by BCM Well-Being, she said. While variations of BCM BeWell have been around since 2012, BCM LIFE started serving Baylor’s student population five years ago.

In October, the program hosted its first BCM Wellness 5K in person since 2019, and the 11th annual event.

“It started as a way to raise money to support student well-being within the School of Medicine, and it morphed into an event organized by student representatives from each school,” she said. “Today, this event is open to the entire community to promote physical health and social connection.”

This year, the 5K planning committee was made up of students from all schools for the first time. The committee was made up of Kayla House and Liu Yan “Yuri” Ting, both graduates from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Keller Christian from the School of Medicine and Kayli Schwantz from the School of Health Professions.

BCM Wellness 5K on Oct. 28, 2022.

BCM Wellness 5K on Oct. 22, 2022.

Under Anderson’s guidance, the committee negotiated with sponsors and learned the logistics of hosting a race. On race day, 220 people participated, including 25 children in the Kids 1K.

The money raised goes toward grant opportunities and Grants for Leadership Opportunities in Wellness Awards for students who spearhead well-being initiatives internally or in the Houston community.

In 2021, three $500 GLOW awards were given out, including one who started a yoga anatomy class for first-year medical students. Another award was given to a graduate student who conducted a four-month series of “Lunch and Learns” on various mental health topics. Longevity for Latinos is an initiative to combat health disparities led by the Latino Medical Student Association.

Getaway to Good Health is a yearlong challenge hosted by BCM Well-Being to get the Baylor community moving, based on data which highlights sedentary behaviors typical in modern workplaces. Typically ran between January and December, the campaign encourages participants to track any physical activity.

“Between 2015-2020, we virtually ‘walked’ around the perimeter of the U.S. by calculating the steps from various cities. Participants were encouraged to set individual goals that made sense to them,” Anderson said. “This year, we began the next iteration and traveled around the world, including visits to BIPAI locations. For 2022, our endpoint is the southern tip of Mexico, and next year, we will travel to Panama.”

The Getaway to Good Health end-of-year event will celebrate participants’ success through colorful blanket giveaways, T-shirts and Mexican sweets. Check Baylor’s internal communications for details.

BCM Well-Being initiatives for 2023 will include an employee appreciation program and resource guide, Anderson said. More social engagement opportunities on campus will be planned even as hybrid work schedules are likely to continue next year.

By Julie Garcia

BCM Wellness 5K on Oct. 28, 2022.

BCM Wellness 5K on Oct. 22, 2022.