Submitted by Daniel Lakoff, MD and Christina Shenvi, MD, PhD, on behalf of the CORD Resilience Committee Resource Task Force
As residency leaders, keeping our residents healthy and teaching them to be resilient are top priorities. Because of the growing appreciation nationally of the importance of wellness and resiliency to residents and physicians, CORD created a Resilience Committee with our inaugural meeting in Nashville last March.
This post is the first in a series of wellness and resilience-related topics brought to you by the Resilience Resource Task Force. Members of this task force reached out to national organizations, other specialties, international programs, the FOAM world, CORD, and non-medical sources for ideas and resources on improving resident wellness. In this post we will outline some of the ideas and themes that we heard.
Before we dive into the resources, let’s discuss definitions for some of the common terms with respect to the residency:
- Wellness: An overall term that encompasses the general state of wellbeing within a residency.
- Mindfulness: To be self-aware of oneself physically and emotionally at the present moment and reacting to it in a way to effect positive change in one’s life.
- Resilience: The ability of the resident to bounce back after stressful situations encountered during residency to the same character they were previous to the insult. Inciting stressful events include patient deaths, challenging conversations with patients, families, as well as other providers. Other important events that require resilience are factors affecting the resident’s personal life, including missed family events, time away from family members and/or spouses/partners, personal relationship issues, health issues and poor self-image.
Top 5 ideas for building wellness and resiliency into your program:
- Start by assessing what you are already doing in terms of wellness, and where you can improve. Think about areas such as:
- Building camaraderie and a sense of belonging – everything from social activities to residency T-shirts and jackets
- Healthy eating – are you only serving pizza and bagels at residency events?
- Weave wellness into the fabric of your program:
- Start educating your faculty and residents on the importance of wellness, the prevalence of burnout, and how to identify burnout in themselves or others.
- Invite high-quality speakers to talk to your residents and faculty on wellness and coping skills several times throughout the year.
- Empower residents to reach out to the residency leadership if they feel they or others in the program are experiencing burnout.
- Incorporate a burnout assessment (such as the Maslach Burnout Inventory) into your semi-annual resident meetings (our look for our Assessment Task Force for their recommendations)
- Check out and forward this link from EMRA Wellness Committee who have released their own Wellness Survey for your residents!
- Ask for and listen to feedback from residents (and faculty) about how to improve their wellness.
- Develop your mentorship program to improve mentorship on wellness and resiliency.
- Consider having a wellness day, with speakers but also some fun or team-building activities. If you need some ideas; take a look at what we are doing at Mount Sinai in year two of our program ((Add link here))
- While on shift, ensure your team is nourished! Make sure they’ve eaten and are taught at least one pearl – use the daily lunch List. (Thanks to Phil Andrus for the idea and inspiration).
- On-Board your chiefs. Good scheduling can have a major impact on wellness. Have your chiefs read and review this articles on schedule making and considerations to see where their scheduling can be optimized.
- Get involved nationally or locally. Help your program by learning more about wellness through involvement in a national wellness group. Here are a few options:
- CORD Resilience Committee (CORD Sharepoint to be available soon)
- EMRA Wellness Committee
- ACEP Wellbeing Committee
- AMA Physician Wellness Section
- Contact your local ACEP state chapters and inquire about starting a subcommittee
- Reach out to your GME, UME, EMIG, Psychiatry and Walk-in Mental Health!
- Really dig in to see what your home institution has in place to facilitate resident wellness and how they are supported. Chances are that your residents get a long spiel at intern orientation, and forget the details. Consider digging up those details and identifying the best options available for them from resources available to access to the mental-health care at your own institution.
Keep your ideas rolling in! We need your ideas to share; please complete this brief survey for both the Resource & Assessment Task-forces.
Keep on the lookout as we’ll be posting the collected resources on the CORD sharepoint for your use.
Resilience Committee – Resource Task-Force