Physician wellness impacts every facet of our personal and professional lives. It's also a topic that most physicians can struggle with at one time or another during their careers, notably during training.
UW Health recognizes staff and provider well-being as a critical organizational competency—in other words, a necessity to fulfilling our mission of remarkable healthcare, education, and research. We participate in the Physician Wellness Academic Consortium.
In 2020, UW Health hired its first chief wellness officer, Mariah Quinn, MD, MPH, who is also the co-creator and leader of the Empathy Course and a former internal medicine residency associate program director.
Similarly, wellness is a key aim of our residency program. We include well-being into every decision we make, from policies, rotation design, faculty development, curriculum, to how we build community and mentorship.
We also regularly assess well-being and use this information to engage in regular improvements, as well as individualized coaching and mentoring.
Policies to Support Resident Wellness
Our residency program has instituted wellness half days, which are scheduled ahead to make sure residents can attend to routine health visits or other life needs without conflict with work. And, of course, as urgent or ongoing needs can arise, residents can always attend medical visits during duty hours.
Despite these efforts, burnout can occur. That's why we have a robust burnout policy that provides residents with a breather should they need it—and provide education to our residents and chief residents on recognizing burnout in themselves and others.
Our Empathy Course emphasizes reflection, play, and reconnection with your own humanity, and connection with your colleagues. It helps augment your resilience and improve your communication and relationship skills.
Positively-Focused Conference Series
This series, held as part of our Morning Report, allows residents to reflect and discuss why we do what we do as physicians. We focus on positive patient interactions that have brought us joy and meaning in our work.
- Reflections on Successes
- Reflections on Resilience
- Reflections on Meaning
Try out this reflective writing exercise: Download PDF
Developing your Professional Identity
While our curriculum is currently in the design process here are some good resources:
- Cruess 2015 A Schematic Representation of the Professional Identity Formation and Socialization of Medical Students and Residents: A Guide for Medical Educators
- Cruess 2014 Reframing medical education to support professional identity formation
- Book recommendation: Côté JE, Levine CG. Identity Formation, Agency, and Culture : A Social Psychological Synthesis. Mahwah, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates; 2002.
Wellness During COVID-19
COVID-19 created new ways for us to learn and work together, and new opportunities as well. Early on in the pandemic, we moved quickly to reorganize teams, schedules and rotations to meet the needs of patients and learners alike. We continue to meet as a program each week to keep residents up-to-date on any and all changes.
And as we navigate this changing landscape, we continue to support each other professionally, and take care of each other personally.
UW Health publishes dashboard data transparently, including local and state cases of COVID and PPE supplies.
We have also enhanced well-being resources for all providers and staff, including residents and fellows. These include the UW Health Peer Support Program, which providers 1:1 confidential support from a peer (including trained internal medicine resident peer supporters) and Peer Support Rounds on COVID units and test sites.
In addition, we offer free, confidential access to behavioral health providers from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to discuss stress and distress, plus Employee Assistance Program-based support services available through phone, video, and text 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
UW Health COVID internal resources (u-Connect login required)
Our active, resident-run Wellness Committee, supported by Associate Program Director and Director of Medicine Provider Well-being Mariah Quinn, MD, MPH, aims to bring awareness to the importance of resident physician well-being, and support resident efforts to be healthy, build resilience, and find meaning and joy in our work.
We achieve this by publishing wellness newsletters, holding resident social events to build connection and community, hosting Positively Focused conferences, and disseminating resources and training on stress management, burnout and resiliency.