Background: Hospitalists experience high rates of burnout.  Little is understood about the best way to address hospitalist well-being and resilience in the workplace.  User-centered interviews at our institution identified inadequate access to nutritious food as one of several barriers to a rejuvenating hospitalist experience.  Despite a cafeteria with flexible hours and healthy options, interviewees cited distance from work areas, cost, and patient demands as barriers to eating regular, nutritious meals.  Recent evidence suggests that poor workplace nutrition is common among physicians and can impair emotional and physical well-being and cognitive performance.

Purpose: Provide readily available nutrition to hospitalists.

Description: A hospitalist-led taskforce applied user-centered design processes to generate solutions that would transform the clinical workplace into a space that fostered and promoted rejuvenation.  Several iterations of direct observation and empathic interviewing identified a lack of available nutrition as a significant barrier to hospitalist wellness within our 80-person academic hospitalist group.  Based on that insight, a nutrition station was designed for the main hospitalist clinical workroom, consisting of nutritious snacks such as snack bars, fruit, yogurt, and cheese provided at no charge.  Initial feedback was overwhelmingly positive, as providers noted improved morale, increased productivity, healthier food choices, and decreased “hunger anxiety.”  Participants generally viewed the nutrition bar as validation of their hard work.  Iterative prototyping cycles with clinicians assessed willingness to pay out-of-pocket, as well as location, quantity, and type of food.  At the end of the design cycles, 37 of 45 respondents (82%) agreed or strongly agreed that ready access to nutrition made their day happier and healthier and improved the quality of care that they provided.  These findings resulted in a successful formal budget proposal to hospitalist leadership and the implementation of a permanent nutrition station in the hospitalist workroom.

Conclusions: While there are multiple components to physician wellness, ready access to nutrition is one factor that can promote hospitalist well-being and resilience.  Rapidly iterative design cycles can be used to engage hospitalists in generating nutrition solutions that require minimal resources.  Engaging end-users throughout the design process provides benefits that are typically absent in top-down solutions.