Impact of a family medicine resident wellness curriculum: a feasibility study

Med Educ Online. 2016 Jun 8:21:30648. doi: 10.3402/meo.v21.30648. eCollection 2016.


Background: Up to 60% of practicing physicians report symptoms of burnout, which often peak during residency. Residency is also a relevant time for habits of self-care and resiliency to be emphasized. A growing literature underscores the importance of this; however, evidence about effective burnout prevention curriculum during residency remains limited.

Objectives: The purpose of this project is to evaluate the impact of a new, 1-month wellness curriculum for 12 second-year family medicine residents on burnout, empathy, stress, and self-compassion.

Methods: The pilot program, introduced during a new rotation emphasizing competencies around leadership, focused on teaching skills to cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion in order to enhance empathy and reduce stress. Pre-assessments and 3-month follow-up assessments on measures of burnout, empathy, self-compassion, and perceived stress were collected to evaluate the impact of the curriculum. It was hypothesized that this curriculum would enhance empathy and self-compassion as well as reduce stress and burnout among family medicine residents.

Results: Descriptive statistics revealed positive trends on the mean scores of all the measures, particularly the Mindfulness Scale of the Self-Compassion Inventory and the Jefferson Empathy Scale. However, the small sample size and lack of sufficient power to detect meaningful differences limited the use of inferential statistics.

Conclusions: This feasibility study demonstrates how a residency wellness curriculum can be developed, implemented, and evaluated with promising results, including high participant satisfaction.

Keywords: burnout prevention; physician wellness; residency education.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control*
  • Curriculum
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Leadership
  • Mindfulness
  • Resilience, Psychological
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*