Resident wellness is a priority not only in our program but also institution wide. We recognize that the high prevalence of resident burnout, and serious mental health challenges are community issues that must be addressed in partnership with resident participation.
When it comes to formal programs that support resident wellness we have an institutional Resident Faculty Wellness Program which offers confidential counseling to residents and faculty on an as needed basis or short-term ongoing basis. This program uses a separate medical record system from the hospital so people who access this program can rest easy knowing their records are truly confidential. Within the department we have a wellness committee of faculty who serve as a support mechanism for our residents if they are experiencing a hard time, and is completely confidential. In both wellness programs all interactions and meetings are confidential. In 2017 one of our residents saw a need for a formal wellness curriculum centered around mindfulness practices and, working with Dr. Wax and Matt Hosanna, identified a curriculum to implement and weekly protected time to go through the curriculum with the residents. This program was implemented, prospective and retrospective data collected from participating residents show resounding support for the continuation of this program with all participants believing this program to be beneficial.
Wellness also includes being able to attend to your healthcare needs and take time away from work when needed. Residents get up to four wellness half-days. When these half-days were first introduced the program noticed that residents weren’t using them, and recognized that having to ask for a half-day off is a barrier in-itself to accessing them so we started scheduling two of those half-days, with the other two being available whenever there’s a need.
Wellness isn’t just formal programs, it’s also the informal “programs” that we as a close-knit residency program and department have in place. Adverse patient outcomes are a part of any doctor’s reality and can take a heavy toll on your emotional wellbeing. One thing that you can count on when you have such an experience is a call from Dr. Wax checking in on how you’re doing with a reminder of the time off available to you should you need it. But it doesn’t stop there, your co-residents also will be checking in on you.
On the positive side of the coin we also see wellness being fostered through social events outside between residents and faculty, and everyone celebrating when an important milestone is reached whether that be buying your first home, having your first kid, or getting married. This web of informal wellness support forms the foundation and driving force behind our strong sense of community.