About Arlene Chung, MD

Chief Strategy Officer,
2016-17 ALiEM Wellness Think Tank
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
Assistant Program Director
Mount Sinai Emergency Medicine Residency
Editor, AKOSMED (EM wellness blog)
20 02, 2017

Wellness and Resiliency During Residency: Life happens despite your best plans

When I got back home from taking [my board exams], having all these [negative] feelings swirling through my head, I remember driving up and seeing my wife and baby sitting on the porch and suddenly being like, “Isn’t this what life is all about? Is it really about studying for an exam? Is it really about pushing yourself to get triple-boarded or do this or that within medicine? I mean, isn’t THIS what it’s about? Having a wife and a child, a family to call your own, aren’t these the things that are most important that we should value?” After that point, after seeing them on the porch and over the next couple weeks, things really started to change for me.

— Haney Mallemat, MD
(more…)

25 01, 2017

Wellness and Resiliency During Residency: Debriefing Critical Incidents and podcast

debriefing critical incidents (c) Can Stock Photo / joggi2002“One of the residents that I was working with was yelled at once by somebody else because he had cried while giving a family bad news. I think everyone knows when you’re giving them bad news; it’s not like a big secret. You maintaining a great deal of composure doesn’t change that fact. I think that we’re allowed to be human. If we force ourselves not to be human or have any degree of human emotion, that’s obviously not putting us on the path to wellness and certainly if we force other people not to be human that’s not putting either them or us on the path to wellness.”

—Ilene A. Claudius, MD

Breaking bad news to patients and families is a fact of life for an emergency physician. More than 300,000 patients die in emergency departments each year from either traumatic or nontraumatic cardiopulmonary arrest, and an even greater number are diagnosed with a new life-threatening or life-altering illness, such as cancer, stroke, or traumatic brain injury.1 We stand at the front lines for these patients and families when they are first confronted with death or their own mortality. It is up to us at these moments, not their specialists or family physicians, to comfort and support them in a time of need. While intensely fulfilling at times, this type of demanding emotional support can also be incredibly draining in an environment that never sleeps and never stops moving.

(more…)

22 01, 2017

Emergency Medicine WELLNESS WEEK – An international collaboration & call to action!

“Dear colleagues. The unbearable has happened…last Friday we discovered that one of our residents was tragically taken from us… It appears that the resident took their own life in response to acute grief…”

– Dr. Christopher Doty (Program Director, University of Kentucky EM Residency Program)


Wellness weekCalling ALL Emergency Medicine (EM) physicians – residents and attendings alike! 
It shouldn’t take Dr. Doty’s story or the loss by the resident’s family, friends, and colleagues suffered in order for us to recognize the importance of wellness. Our specialty is known to be high risk and it is surprising that we are so late to the game to try and change that. Well, together we can. We are a strong group of people. We see, hear, touch, and smell things that would make the average person nauseous. We are problem solvers and leaders.

(more…)

16 01, 2017

Thriving, Not Surviving, in Residency: JGME-ALiEM Hot Topics in Medical Education Journal Club

jgme aliem residency wellness journal clubThis year’s JGME-ALiEM Hot Topics in Medical Education journal club features the systematic review on residency wellness recently published in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education (JGME).  This week, share your thoughts about this timely topic and paper on the blog, on Twitter (follow #JGMEscholar) and during a live Google Hangout with author Kristin Raj, MD (@KristinRajMD), Christopher Doty, MD (@PoppasPearls), and Jonathan Sherbino, MD (@Sherbino). Ultimately, a curated summary of our discussions will be published in the JGME. Some of your best tweets and blog comments will be featured.
(more…)

21 12, 2016

Wellness and Resiliency During Residency: Work-Life Balancing Act

Work Life Balancing © Can Stock Photo / Gajus“The hardest thing for me was trying to find time to do things aside from being a resident. When you’re working six 12 hours shifts in a week, there’s only so much time left in the day to do anything else. Especially in the winter, you wake up, you get to work before the sun comes up, you work a 12 hour shift, you leave, and the sun’s gone. By the time you get home, you have enough time to wash the grime off, shovel a sandwich in your mouth, and pass out. And there was nothing else except for that.”

– Anand Swaminathan, MD

(more…)

30 11, 2016

Wellness and Resiliency During Residency: Interprofessional Conflict

“It’s rarely the patients that hurt me. It’s my colleagues in the hospital.”

cartoon conflict pointing finger 3d

“[Interprofessional conflict] is so underappreciated as a source of stress and misery in our job. And so often in the hospital, horrible behavior is swept underneath the rug because a) there is no pathway to address this stuff and b) it’s almost seen as de rigor for certain services to act this way. “Oh it’s the surgical service, what do you expect, that’s just the way they are.” That is what ruins me … I think that is the biggest threat to wellness in my world.”

–Scott Weingart, MD

(more…)

16 10, 2016

ALiEM Book Club: On The Move

Oliver Sacks On the Move“I am a storyteller, for better and for worse. I suspect that a feeling for stories, for narrative, is a universal human disposition, going with our powers of language, consciousness of self, and autobiographical memory.” —Oliver Sacks, On the Move

Oliver Sacks has been many things in his life—physician, writer, researcher, drug addict, power lifter, motorcycle lover. He writes about all of these experiences as they have arced across the course of his much varied life in his memoir, On the Move [Amazon]. In this colorful autobiography, Sacks bobs and weaves through his own life, at times focusing in on the smallest detail, and at others zooming back for the 10,000 foot benefit of hindsight. Parts of the book are starkly innocent, while others border on frank arrogance. He demonstrates a complexity of personal characteristics that is at once believable and larger-than-life.

(more…)