Six Steps to Achieve Meaning, Wellness, and Avoid Burnout in a Residency Program

J Med Educ Curric Dev. 2020 Dec 7;7:2382120520978238. doi: 10.1177/2382120520978238. eCollection Jan-Dec 2020.


Burnout has become an increasingly recognized problem in higher medical education and is particularly prevalent within the field of Neurology and its training programs. Many previously reported wellness initiatives in other residencies focused mainly on community/team building. We developed a comprehensive Wellness Curriculum (WC) and established a new role of Resident Wellness Liaison in order to facilitate wellness across the department and training program. Here we present a 6-step outline of our WC which can easily be adapted to the needs of other programs. The steps include creating a Wellness Committee with a Resident Wellness Liaison, identification and optimization of institutional resources, identifying and troubleshooting barriers to wellness, providing education and reflection on wellness, showing appreciation to each other, and assessing the impact of the implemented strategies. In order to measure the impact of our WC and to perform a needs assessment for future directions, we posed questions-grounded in the theory of drivers of burnout and engagement-to our residents (N = 24) at a noon conference in the summer of 2020. Interventions implemented at our institution have been very well received by residents, as evidenced by their comments and feedback. Themes that were highlighted by residents include enjoying flexibility, having a welcoming social support system at work, and being able to find meaning in the day-to-day work. The creation of a comprehensive WC is a feasible and meaningful intervention for addressing resident wellness in a Neurology training program and could be adapted to other programs.

Keywords: Wellness; burnout; neurology; residency.