Peer Support Resources at VUMC


Peer Support Programs

When a colleague is impacted by an unanticipated outcome or challenging case, Peer Support Teams within a workgroup proactively offer emotional support to affected peers. Several Teams have undergone specialized training equipping them to identify early signs of stress and burnout and how to provide guidance or referral to resources, as required.

General Surgery Wellbeing Response Team-Resilience Rapid Response Team (RT3): This Team is committed to being approachable and available to the residents and faculty of the Department of Surgery during ordinary and extraordinary times of stress.

Perioperative Services PULSE PAUSE Peer Support Team: Working to ensure that all clinicians & team in the surgical areas receive the appropriate support following a critical patient incident. 

Safe Faculty Peer Support Medicine Team: Residents can seek out Safe Faculty when there is a concern in their career that shakes confidence and they have a need for affirmation or to process their reactions.

Behavioral Health Clinical Practice Group: The Psychiatric Hospital at Vanderbilt has a process group for clinicians to address the emotional impact of treating challenging patients.

Peer Support Toolkit: Provides information on existing peer support programs across the medical center, as well as an 8-step guide to creating your own peer support program within your work unit.  Available training options at VUMC are included.

The PULSE Huddle

A form of psychological first aid, the PULSE Huddle is a brief ritual utilized following a death to help a team gain some closure, pay their respect to the patient, and honor the efforts of the health care team.

The objective is to "take your emotional pulse" in a brief 3-5 minute huddle by acknowledging difficult events in real-time. The PULSE Huddle can be facilitated by leaders or willing peers at the conslusion of an event before the team disperses onto their next patient situation.

If an event has a lingering signficant impact, then a formal EAP-facilitated Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) debriefing may be scheduled with 48-72 hours of the event. 

Pulse Huddle pocket cards can be requested through Work/Life Connections-EAP at 615-936-1327. 

Suggested PULSE Huddle Process:

Immediately following the death or difficult patient event:

  • PAUSE: Gather the team and reflect on this significant event.
  • UNDERSTAND: What just happened? Review the facts in the case. What was done? What was the outcome?
  • LEARN: What went well and what didn't?
  • STRESS impact: What was the hardest part for you (emotionally); and for the team?
  • ENCOURAGE self-care: What do you need to do to take care of yourself (coping interventions to avoid compassion fatigue/burnout)?

    Honoring the Person and the Loss:

    Let's take a moment just to pause and honor _______________.

    They were someone who loved and was loved.

    They were someone's friend and family member.

    In our own way, and in silence, let us stand and take a moment to honor this life and all the valiant efforts that were made on their behalf.

    As we walk away from this moment, may we also remember to extend compassionate care to ourselves as we prepare our hearts to welcome another into our care.