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The UNC Center for Health Innovation has announced the recipients of its 2024 Innovation Pilot Awards. Among the distinguished winners is Katherine Chan, MD, MPH, Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Urology and Associate Professor at the UNC School of Medicine, who also represents the UNC School of Medicine’s Coaching Academy as a Level 2 Coach.

Dr. Chan’s project, titled “A pilot feasibility study of a small group professional coaching intervention to decrease burnout and improve well-being among UNC Health physicians,” was selected alongside 4 other projects that demonstrate clear dedication to improving care for UNC Health patients, strengthening our health care system, and meeting the mission of the UNC Center for Health Innovation.

About Dr. Chan’s Pilot Program

Physician burnout, caused by chronic workplace stress, not only affects healthcare professionals but also impacts patient care and the healthcare system’s efficiency. High rates of burnout among physicians nationwide have been observed, leading to concerns about patient safety and workforce stability. To address this issue, Dr. Chan’s project aims to test the effectiveness of a small-group professional coaching intervention.

Professional coaching involves personalized support to help physicians navigate stressors and improve resilience. The project builds on existing coaching initiatives at UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health, where faculty and healthcare leaders have been trained as 1:1 coaches for individuals. With this project, the focus is on testing a small group coaching approach specifically tailored for physicians experiencing burnout.

The project has two main goals:

  1. Evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of a 3-month small group coaching intervention for physicians experiencing burnout compared to a waitlist control group.
  2. Assess the effects of the coaching intervention on burnout, well-being, self-efficacy, resilience, and intention to leave the organization.

Physicians and certified coaches will participate in the study, with sessions conducted over a secure online platform. The coaching sessions will focus on reflection, goal setting, and action planning, with topics guided by the participants’ interests and needs. Data will be collected through surveys and interviews to understand the impact of the coaching intervention.

By testing this innovative approach, the project aims to provide evidence for sustainable strategies to reduce burnout and improve physician well-being, ultimately benefiting both healthcare professionals and the patients they serve.

“I am excited about this opportunity to partner with our internal certified coaches to maximize the personal and professional potential of UNC Health physicians and provide a sustainable resource for the future. I am also extremely grateful to the UNC Center for Health Innovation and the Office of Faculty Affairs and Leadership Development for their ongoing support and leadership.”

Katherine Chan, MD, MPH
Vice Chair For Research
Director of The Pediatric Kidney Stone Clinic
Director of Pediatric Urology Research
Associate Professor of Urology


About the Innovation Pilot Award

Each year, the Center for Health Innovation offers internal pilot funding to UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine employees for health care innovations across a broad spectrum of interest areas, such as Care delivery models, Health equity/disparity improvements, Technology development, Advanced analytics, Business models, Workforce development, and Translational research.
Since 2013, the Center has awarded 41 teams over $1,889,000 total to support innovative pilots aimed at disrupting the delivery and financing of health care while improving health outcomes and lowering costs. Previous award winners have been able to leverage findings gathered during their pilot project to obtain over $5.9M of additional funding.