Background and objectives: Burnout is common among resident physicians. Studies show that those who engage in stress management and mindful practice have improved empathy and lower rates of mood disturbance. This study piloted a program entitled Stress Management and Resiliency Training for Residents (SMART-R) with Family Medicine (FM) and Ob-Gyn residents at an academic medical center.
Methods: The 6-hour SMART-R program, which teaches relaxation strategies, stress awareness, and adaptive coping, was mandatory for all years of residency and delivered in three 2-hour sessions during protected didactic time. Interested residents received a weekly phone text message with mindfulness and resiliency reminders to enhance practice between sessions. We measured burnout, empathy, perceived stress, mindful attention awareness, mind body practices, and program satisfaction.
Results: There were 14 matched pre/post surveys (six FM, eight Ob-Gyn), of which 10 (five FM; five Ob-Gyn) opted to receive weekly texts. Empathy, stress, and burnout remained stable over time. Those who received the weekly texts showed a significant increase in mindful attention awareness and trended toward lower perceived stress compared to those who did not receive texts. Half of those surveyed felt the training should be mandatory and 71% would recommend it to colleagues. While 93% thought it was important to know the current research on mind-body medicine to guide patients, only 29% felt they knew much about this.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated the positive impact a 6-hour stress management and resiliency intervention can have on resident physicians. Unlike other studies that have shown decreased empathy and increased stress and burnout over time, these features remained stable over the academic year. Weekly text reminders supported the training and suggest potential benefit to enhance stress management training for medical professionals.