Our program knows that “wellness” and “burnout” are not just buzzwords to pay lip-service to, but the realities of what residents face on a daily basis. Residency isn’t easy, but we strive to promote integration of work and life throughout all three years. This focus comes from the top, with Section and Program leadership working with residents to improve structural and systemic factors that contribute to resident burnout. Resident schedules while in the ED have a built in “golden” 3-day weekend during every two week block to allow residents to travel or unhook from work. Sign-out times are strictly respected and residents are encouraged to complete documentation throughout the shift to prevent them from staying after. Mental health is discussed openly and without stigma including during the new “Trauma Wellness Series” where psychiatrists meet with residents to discuss topics such as anticipatory anxiety, vicarious trauma, and work on concrete mindfulness skills that can be used during the hectic work of the rotation.
During most years, 48 hours are protected and devoted to “Residency Retreat,” held in Michigan on the water. Residents are pulled for at least one day from all rotations to discuss residency wide issues, changes, and to bond with their colleagues.
This year the official retreat has been delayed, but instead residents and leadership participated in a “stay-treat.” The morning was devoted to meetings with leadership to provide feedback, to a Narrative Medicine reflection session on empathy, and to a session where residents were encouraged to discuss and normalize medical errors. Afterwards, Field Day activities brought us out onto the beautiful Midway Plaisance.
The specific goals of the Resident Wellness Committee are as follows:
- Promote a healthy work-life balance.
- Provide physical, psychological, social and professional wellness education.
- Maintain a peer support and advocacy network for the residents.
The Resident Wellness Committee is resident driven and comprised of residents from each class. With the assistance of faculty members elected by the residency, the RWC plans quarterly social events focusing on specific wellness topics and forging camaraderie among faculty and residents.
Events have included biking on the lake, time spent on the beach, bonfires, axe throwing, trips to the zoo, white elephant holiday party, and a private yoga lesson. For the last couple years there has also been a residency sponsored volleyball team, fostering further social opportunities and comradery amongst the residents, faculty, and nursing.