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As the fall season edges toward winter, leaves cascading from high upon the trees, we find ourselves rushing forward to the end of the calendar year. As we get caught up in the excitement of the impending holiday season, it is important to take a step back and look at how well we are caring for ourselves. It is easy to forget to take time for ourselves internally as we run about making sure everything in our outside life is in order. It is therefore important that each of us creates and implements a self-care program that will not only help us today but also prepare us for a healthier and more productive future. As providers, we have a role to play in assisting our patients and loved ones to achieve current and ongoing wellness goals.

Women’s health providers naturally have a whole-person view of their patients

As women’s health providers, we need to have a holistic, whole-person view into our patients’ worlds. Our team plays an important role in leading our patients on their self-care journey and can have a positive impact on supporting the management of their wellness goals. This past month, a few women’s health and self-care awareness topics come to the forefront.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: a great conversation starter to remind patients to take care of themselves

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a perfect time to reach out to your patients to emphasize the importance of practicing ongoing breast awareness (Breast Cancer Awareness Feature | CDC ) and to encourage those who might need a mammogram to get one. October 21st, in fact, is National Mammography Day—here is some important information to share with your patients: What Is a Mammogram? | CDC. Not sure which of your patients needs a baseline mammogram or follow-up, no problem—your EHR should provide a way to pull together a list of patients fitting this criteria. The use of a population health tool can help you create an ongoing campaign to ensure that none of your patients is falling through the cracks.

October 12-18 was also Bone and Joint Health National Action Week—a great time to educate your patients on osteoporosis ( Osteoporosis | Office on Women's Health ( ) and the risks involved. Proactive self-care today can help create a future free of bone and joint conditions. Performing a query in your EHR or using a population health tool can help you find the patients who are at greatest risk of developing this condition. While there are a number of reasons for utilizing an EHR, one of the gifts is the data you are collecting. Your system can provide you with a way to uncover patients who have an increased risk but are not being screened for underlying conditions.

Serve as a guide for your patient to implement a self-care program that fits their lifestyle

Helping women implement a self-care program that focuses on various aspects of their health and wellness each month is crucial. The first step is awareness, and as their provider, we can have a significant impact on keeping them on a road to a healthy and positive future. There are a great deal of resources out there for you and your team to share with your patients. For example, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc (Breast Self-Exam - National Breast Cancer Foundation) provides resources for women to perform a breast self-exam and steps to early detection. Everyday Health provides articles on various educational topics (All Wellness Articles | Everyday Health).

It’s important to remember that patients turn to their healthcare providers and care teams to point them in the right direction. Following an ongoing self-care and wellness program is an integral part of creating a positive future. As providers, we are gifted with the ability to serve as the trusted advisor for our patients, and our guidance and input will help them sort through the many conflicting messages they may find on their own. Our promotion and sharing of a wellness education program can have an undeniable impact on the future our patients manifest for themselves.

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headshot of blog author Gary Wietecha

Dr. Gary Wietecha

Physician Director, Clinical Service