Feasibility of a Comprehensive Wellness and Suicide Prevention Program: A Decade of Caring for Physicians in Training and Practice

J Grad Med Educ. 2016 Dec;8(5):747-753. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-16-00034.1.


Background : Comprehensive treatment models reduce distress and suicide risk in military, university, and community populations, but are not well studied with in medical trainees and physicians in practice. Physicians face unique internal and external barriers that limit access to psychological or psychiatric treatment, which may contribute to higher rates of burnout, depression, and suicide.

Objective : Our goal is to report on the feasibility and utilization of a wellness and suicide prevention program for residents, fellows, and faculty in an academic health center.

Methods : The program provides individual counseling, psychiatric evaluation, and wellness workshops for residents/fellows (N = 906) and faculty (N = 1400). Demand for services is demonstrated by the participation rate of eligible trainees. Acceptability within the target population is examined in a 2011 survey in which trainees (N = 116, 97% participation) and program directors (N = 23, 88% participation) rated their satisfaction. Start-up costs and funding sources to sustain a wellness program are outlined.

Results : Over 10 years, utilization of services grew from 5% in the program's first year (2004-2005) to a high of 25% of eligible trainees for 2013-2014, and faculty utilization grew to 6% to 8% for 2014-2015. Trainees and program directors reported a high level of satisfaction with this wellness program. Funding for clinic space and clinical staff is provided by the hospital via the graduate medical education budget.

Conclusions : Increased utilization over 10 years, high satisfaction, and consistent institutional support suggest that this comprehensive model of care is feasible and valued.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control
  • Counseling / economics
  • Counseling / organization & administration
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Health Promotion / economics
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Suicide / prevention & control*