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Retreat helps those supporting residents and fellows better address well-being

Penn State College of Medicine’s Office of Graduate Medical Education and Office for Faculty and Physician Wellness recently hosted a retreat titled “Understanding Well-Being as an Action Word.”

As the pressures facing faculty and residents continue to peak nationwide, the College of Medicine continues to brainstorm how to address burnout and well-being at the institution. This retreat facilitated a conversation in a larger setting.

Dr. Ron McLean, director of the Office for Faculty and Physician Wellness, led the group of Graduate Medical Education program directors and coordinators who were in attendance. Dr. McLean joined the College of Medicine in November 2018, and has spent much of his time becoming familiar with the institution and learning the challenges faced by various departments and divisions.

The evening began with a presentation defining wellness and the factors related to burnout. Dr. McLean presented a summary of his findings regarding the GME well-being challenges at Penn State Health/Penn State College of Medicine. Following the presentation, each table of attendees was asked to assess the current state of well-being in graduate medical education and the areas for improvement that should be prioritized in future efforts.

This photo taken Feb. 7, 2019, features a group of Graduate Medical Education program directors and coordinators sitting at round tables eating a meal discussing the wellness topic of the evening and recording ideas to share.

Graduate medical education program directors and coordinators share ideas in a workshop designed to address burnout among residents and fellows.

The four questions that each table addressed were:

  • What are the institutional/departmental challenges or struggles?
  • In what way would you like to see change?
  • How would you describe your residents/fellows’ personal challenges that interfere with their well-being?
  • What activities or interventions would you want to see be considered relative to a resident/fellow wellness initiative?

Once the group came back together there were many ideas which, when analyzed, fell into several broad themes.

The broad themes that emerged during the breakout sessions included:

  • Balance of clinical vs. education role of residents
  • Support and resources for residents, including computers, ancillary support, clinical support staff, opportunities for scholarly activity and basic needs such as water and food
  • Increased dedicated space for residents – work space, computers, call rooms
  • Input into the functionality of the electronic health record
  • Appreciation and recognition of residents for the work they do and the care they provide
  • Development of a community for residents, time for clinical and non-clinical interaction
  • Equity between family life and responsibilities and work life and responsibilities
  • Focus on financial health
  • Mental health awareness and resources

The themes will be utilized to develop programming and affect change for residents and fellows by the Office of Graduate Medical Education and by Dr. Ron McLean in the Office of Faculty and Physician Wellness.

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