'Happiness is the Path:' An Overview of and Initial Data from a Resident Wellness Program at Weatherford Regional Medical Center




Rheams, Christopher
Pavelek, Tara
Nash, Lisa
Cash, Kyle
Finn, Stephanie


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Purpose: Resident education programs are challenging-mentally, physically, and emotionally. As residents progress through the training program, the novice physicians often neglect their own wellness. Poor self-care is primarily because of poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep-hygiene, and a failure to maintain healthy personal relationships. Physician burnout brings a host of collateral consequences, including an increase in mental illnesses such as mood disorders, addiction disorders, and increased rates of suicide. Methods: Weatherford Regional Medical Center’s Graduate Medical education department implemented a resident wellness program during its inaugural year. The program helps to prevent or mitigate the burnout that often accompanies residents during their training. The Resident Wellness Committee coordinates the program. The interdisciplinary team consists of Residency Coordinators, Internal Medicine faculty, and residents. The Wellness Program uses a multi-faceted approach to both prevent and screen for physician burnout that utilizes a reporting system, didactics, and events. The program has created an anonymous reporting system that is available to all hospital employees; this allows all hospital employees to voice concern regarding the well-being of our residents. Focused didactics address topics related to resident stress, burnout, and emotional exhaustion. The program holds quarterly “Wellness Events” and all residents are excused from clinical duty to attend. This fosters a supportive atmosphere and provides activities geared towards enhancing the individual’s well-being. These activities include physical activity, designated personal time, and social activity to deepen interpersonal connections. The wellness committee has developed tools to evaluate and track the resident’s well-being. The program uses anonymous surveys collected from the residents twice a year to evaluate for signs of burnout, depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and a sense of personal accomplishment. Feedback from the initial surveys allows for an early assessment of the program’s effectiveness. Each medical learner was asked to answer a series of questions that address personal levels of depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and personal accomplishment. Nineteen medical learners participated in the survey (7 Internal Medicine residents, 6 students, and 6 traditional rotating interns). The scaled questions were tabulated and used to quantify each category. Results/Conclusions: The initial study yielded promising results. The Wellness Committee looks forward to seeing the impact of these programs as they continue to gather data and responses from residents. As the program continues, the Committee will continue to assess and expand the Wellness program. Unseen and unexploited opportunities exist for improving the quality of resident professional experience and their personal lives. Wellness programs such as Weatherford Regional’s also have a positive implication for the patient’s quality of care. By addressing the mental wellness of the medical professional community, the pool of healthcare providers in Texas will increase both in quantity and quality.