By Anna Horner | News & Views
AACVPR welcomes its newest member to the Board of Directors, Megan Hays, PhD, ABPP, FAACVPR, who plans to hit the ground running. A clinical psychologist with a background in rehabilitation psychology, Hays has worked in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation since 2015, when she began performing behavioral health consults and facilitating support groups for patients in cardiopulmonary rehab. Her passion for the discipline, fostered by her mentor, AACVPR Past President Amy Knight, PhD, ABPP, shines through when she speaks about the field and what she hopes to accomplish on the AACVPR Board of Directors.
“One thing I love about rehab in general is that it’s a happy place and that people are getting better,” Hays says. “We know they are there because there’s room for improvement, and there is definitely reason to believe that they can and will get better, whether it’s improving heart or lung function, losing weight or seeing some of their cardiac markers improve. I just love that spirit of rehab, where we know that they can improve.”
When asked what she brings to the table as an AACVPR Director, Hays cites her current position in the Office of Wellness at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Heersink School of Medicine, where she serves as Associate Director of Wellness Education. She says approximately half of her role is devoted to healthcare worker well-being. “We conduct research on the well-being of healthcare workers, burnout and staff engagement, what creates a positive workplace culture and what makes people want to stay in their jobs. We know that it’s been a tough time in healthcare, especially since COVID. We’ve had a lot of issues with staff retention and turnover in all areas of healthcare,” Hays explains. “I have experience in preventing turnover in my own institution, helping conduct research and meeting one-on-one with many healthcare workers myself. I think that’s an element that I can bring to the table and transfer to AACVPR. As an organization, how do we go out there and engage members? How do we keep people in the organization? And how can we best support people in their roles so that we can increase engagement and improve retention?”
Hays believes it’s important to focus those efforts on emerging professionals. “We could reach out to people who are not members but who we think would be great members, encourage them to attend a webinar or otherwise get involved and show them how great AACVPR is. And in addition to this outreach, we must support these emerging professionals because we know that burnout rates are higher in people who are new to the profession,” she says. “We need to support them in mastering their skill sets and equip them with tools and skills to maintain or improve their well-being so that they stay and remain engaged and, hopefully, even flourish in their work.”
Hays is passionate about cardiopulmonary health and overall well-being, not only as a professional in the field but also in her personal life. She and her husband are teaching the importance of exercise to their 17-month-old son, taking him on frequent walks and excursions to various playgrounds and parks. “You can find me on my Peloton pretty frequently,” she adds.
Additionally, Hays is excited to serve as a Director for what she calls “a truly interdisciplinary organization.” She says, “I love going to the AACVPR meetings because I’m always meeting people from different disciplines who I can learn from, including dietitians, exercise physiologists, psychologists and other practitioners. It’s a diverse group with different perspectives.” Hays concludes, “I’ve learned a lot about how to treat my own practice from other professions. We all have the same goal but different perspectives, and I think we work better together.”
2024 AACVPR Board of Directors
Wen-Chih “Hank” Wu, MD, MPH
Immediate Past President
Ash Walker, DHSc, MA, ACSM-CEP, FAACVPR
David Prince, MD
Stacey Greenway, MA, MPH, CCRP, FAACVPR
Ruth Akers, RN, BSN, MS, FAACVPR
Robert Berry, MS, ACSM-CEP, RCEP, FAACVPR
Megan Hays, PhD, ABPP, FAACVPR
Joel Hughes, PhD, FAACVPR
Katherine Menson, DO
Connie Paladenech, RRT, RCP, FAACVPR, FAARC
Salim Street, M.Ed., CSCS
Todd Brown, MD, MSPH, FACC, FAHA, MAACVPR
To learn more about the members of AACVPR’s Board of Directors, visit AACVPR’s website or view this past News & Views article.