If you have spent any time working in an emergency department in the last 10 years, you have undoubtedly come across a conversation about wellness and burnout in medicine. Despite increasing awareness, the data is bleak: Emergency Medicine (EM) physicians experience burnout more than any other specialty.1 As we consider that EM was the second most popular Match in 2017, it’s important to focus on collaborative efforts and ensure that the increasing number of EM trainees does not lead to a generation of burned out EM providers.2
“The part can never be well unless the whole is well.” – Plato
The rigors of post-graduate training can strain even the most stoic of residents – the next task, the next project, the next shift. These reduce our resiliency to stressful situations. The likelihood is that your program has worked very hard to develop new and innovative initiatives to improve resident wellness and resiliency. And chances are, they have done this in-house. It takes tremendous efforts, however, to create and revise the efforts. In this digital age of social media, this siloed approach no longer is necessary because programs can easily get feedback and share their experiences with others.
The first ever Resident Wellness Consensus Summit (RWCS) was held this year as a pre-day to Essentials of EM on May 15, 2017 in Las Vegas. This was an amazing opportunity for residents across North America to come together and discuss the important topic of resident wellness. We even had some participants from Fiji! Many of the attendees participated in pre-work for the RWCS through their involvement in the Wellness Think Tank, which is our virtual community of practice that involves residents from across the U.S. and Canada. In addition to pre-work for the RWCS, the members participated in online discussions on wellness and worked closely with our Wellness Strategists.
Promoting wellness is a team sport. It takes more than one individual to champion it at any institution. In medicine, when a team is formed to effect change, it is called a committee. Dr. Dan Lakoff was one of the founding leaders of the council of residency wellness committee, and has also helped lead wellness efforts at his own institution. Here he shares his thoughts, his inspiration, and practical ideas that helped improve wellness at his program.
“We do make a difference, but not just in the setting of resuscitating critically ill or injured people, but in putting people on the pathway to health. We often get cheated out of the ending of the movie. We don’t see the romantic side of what we’ve helped facilitate. We certainly don’t get credit for it.” – Dr. Richard Cantor
There are lots of reasons why Emergency Medicine (EM) has one of the highest burnout rates compared to other medical specialties.1,2 We have long and erratic hours, difficult patients, and an increasing number of bureaucratic tasks such as clicking boxes in an electronic medical records system or ensuring high patient-satisfaction survey responses.2 These stresses are not unique to EM, but our high-volume and high-acuity patient loads do amplify those stresses compared to other fields.
Wellness and Resiliency During Residency: Professional Identity Formation (featuring a podcast with Dr. Michael Weinstock)
“So I had medicine in my blood. But just because you have medicine in your blood doesn’t mean that it’s always smooth sailing.” —Michael Weinstock, MD
What is “professional identity formation”?
As Abraham Fuks and colleagues once said, “One does not simply learn to be a physician, one becomes a physician.”1 Professional Identity Formation (PIF) is the slow transformative process by which an idealistic pre-medical college student becomes a battle-hardened emergency physician attending. PIF occurs slowly over years of exposure to the culture of medicine. From Day 1 of medical school, we watch how doctors in the world around us think, teach, feel, and act and slowly absorb those lessons over time, often without even being consciously aware of it happening. These lessons can be inspiring or toxic.
This week the Wellness Think Tank is launching a resident wellness survey for Emergency Medicine residency training programs across the United States. We want 100% of EM residents to complete this important survey and we need your help! Check out 5 reasons why you should take our survey TODAY, if you are a U.S EM resident!