December 22, 2021

Daily Workspace Improvements

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) — Heersink School of Medicine

  • Rachel Z. Bass, MD, Co-Chair of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Radiology Wellness Committee
  • Mark C. Langston, MD, Co-Chair of the UAB Radiology Wellness Committee

“Physician well-being has never been more important, and it does not always have to be a heavy lift. Providing a much-needed break in the day and fellowship with colleagues can provide unexpected benefits. That isn’t to say this is all that is needed to mitigate burnout, but it goes a long way to establish a culture that values physician resiliency.”

- Cheri L. Canon, MD, FACR, FAAWR, Professor and Chair of Radiology, Witten-Stanley Endowed Chair of Radiology, Chief Clinical Officer, Ambulatory Practice, UAB Medicine


To head off malaise in the reading room, Mark Langston, MD, and Rachel Bass, MD, initiated a “surprise treats” effort — along with creating a simple form for the reading room to address minor issues (e.g., changing a light bulb or stocking wipes to clean screens). Their faculty-run wellness committee is keeping well-being top of mind around hours spent in the reading room with few breaks and even less fun.

“As often as possible, we surprise the radiologists (and technologists on the floor) with mid-afternoon treats — snacks and refreshments and the like are personally delivered to the reading room by committee members,” Bass says. There are extra special treats and drop-ins around the holidays to accompany the regular walk-arounds to check in during what should be an organic break time.

The form allows radiologists in the reading room to request simple fixes that would otherwise go overlooked during high volume times. “We really wanted to get rid of the little, daily frustrations,” Langston says. “Our radiologists and technologists get far too busy to call maintenance to report small things.” The form also provides a section to fill out to address specific issues that are causing frustration.

Committee members also do quick surveys during the walk-arounds to check on the radiologists and listen to any problems they may be having. The physical check-ins allow staff to voice their concerns or challenges that might otherwise go unchecked because of time constraints and workload.


The reading room initiative has been well-received. It fosters a natural break in the day where people can stop and talk to each other. The form and the walk-arounds provide an avenue to voice concerns or frustrations. It is a low-maintenance, low-cost intervention that has a high yield of people being valued.

illustration of large hand holding three office workers in its palm


The reading room initiative has reduced the frustration of coping with daily work duties. The effort helps radiologists and technologists work more efficiently — without taking time out of their day to address minor fixes — and more effectively after a surprise break with refreshments.