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Introducing the WFMR Provider Well-Being Curriculum

Our wellbeing curriculum is longitudinal, multifaceted, and both supportive and academic in nature. Residents have dedicated time to devote to learning, practicing and discussing strategies to maintain resiliency and prevent burnout. This curriculum is overseen by Elizabeth Dykhouse, PhD, Director of Behavioral Science, Elizabeth.Dykhouse@umassmemorial.org.

Tuesday Didactics
The PGY1 class has a 45-minute session approximately once per block with the focus on social support and a place to discuss the shared experience of intern year. The PGY2 and PGY3 classes have a joint 90-minute session approximately once per block (guided in part by Every Doctor: Health Doctors = Healthy Patients by Leanne Rowe and Michael Kidd). Topics are focused on equipping physician leaders with the skills to support their own wellbeing as well as that of those around them.

See an example of this two-year curriculum below:

Year One

  • Our Own Medical/Dental/Mental Health Care
  • Responding to Offensive Language
  • Taking Control of Our Time/Setting Compassionate Boundaries
  • Ethical Issues: Terminating relationships; Prescribing for friends and family
  • Joy in Medicine/Positive Psychology
  • When Things go Wrong/Patient Complaints/Grief and Loss
  • Self-Compassion
  • Thoughts are Not Facts … Everyone can use a little CBT
  • Gratitude/Meaningful People
  • Liking or Not Liking Our Patients/Secondary Stress and Triggers

Year Two

  • Managing Intense Stress/Psychological Flexibility
  • Mindful Communication/Conflict Resolution
  • Community Connection
  • Mindful Practice: Noticing/Self-Awareness/Responding to Suffering
  • Mindful Movement/Yoga/Meditation
  • Managing our most important relationships/Social Support
  • Values Clarification and Discussion
  • Creating Healthy Cultures and Teams
  • Life GPS
  • Advocacy: for Patients, Ourselves, and Our Profession

Physician as Leader Blocks
Additionally, organized wellness activities are included in the Physician as Wellness (PAL) curriculum. Friday afternoons of the PAL blocks are set aside for wellness sessions facilitated by the Behavioral Health fellows (https://www.umassmed.edu/fmch/fellowships/psychology/) and are focused on wellness and team building activities for each small group (the four residents by year, by site).

Individual counseling resources
Residents have access to the House Office Counseling Service to help with access to counseling and/or pharmacotherapy. Dr. Runyan (psychologist) and Dr. Brown (psychiatrist) work with residents to explore treatment options and can see any resident or fellow. See more about these services here: https://www.umassmed.edu/well-being/gme-residents-and-fellows

Wellbeing during COVID
We have also included an additional temporary and optional resource focused on physician wellness during the stress of COVID-19. We are calling this “Psychological First Aid.” This is being done to address the ongoing burden of the pandemic on the lives of residents.  As a part of this program, the Behavioral Health fellows (https://www.umassmed.edu/fmch/fellowships/psychology/) are proactively reaching out to residents who opt in to provide support.  These conversations are 1-1 and each conversation includes the two parts described below:

Part 1 is about working conditions (do you feel safe, PPE issues, and basic needs like food and water). This info will be reported to residency and department leadership to quickly address needs that aren’t being met.

Part 2 will give you space to talk about the daily changes, stress, and emotional toll of being a resident right now. It’s intended to be a supportive conversation and isn’t being reported to leadership (unless we were concerned about your safety or patient safety), but we may let leaders know the general kinds of things residents are dealing with (without naming names).  Fellows are also available to help residents establish care with a therapist as needed.