Adapting Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a Framework for Resident Wellness

Teach Learn Med. Jan-Mar 2019;31(1):109-118. doi: 10.1080/10401334.2018.1456928. Epub 2018 Apr 30.


Issue: Burnout in graduate medical education is pervasive and has a deleterious impact on career satisfaction, personal well-being, and patient outcomes. Interventions in residency programs have often addressed isolated contributors to burnout; however, a more comprehensive framework for conceptualizing wellness is needed.

Evidence: In this article the authors propose Maslow's hierarchy of human needs (physiologic, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization) as a potential framework for addressing wellness initiatives. There are numerous contributors to burnout among physician-trainees, and programs to combat burnout must be equally multifaceted. A holistic approach, considering both the trainees personal and professional needs, is recommended. Maslow's Needs can be adapted to create such a framework in graduate medical education. The authors review current evidence to support this model.

Implications: This work surveys current interventions to mitigate burnout and organizes them into a scaffold that can be used by residency programs interested in a complete framework to supporting wellness.

Keywords: burnout; graduate medical education; medical education; wellness.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional
  • Education, Medical, Graduate*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Motivation*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*