Enough Talk: Preventing Burnout During Medical Training

Alexa M. Mieses, MD, MPH


January 04, 2019

Wellness Spreading Like Wildfire

Similar connections of the undergraduate and graduate medical education (GME) settings have emerged. Duke University Health System (DUHS) is also working to improve physician well-being among its GME trainees, which includes residents and fellows.

DUHS GME has efforts related to changing the culture around wellness, improving general well-being, and providing specific resources to help. The institution has regular wellness activities and appreciation events for trainees. It has also created a system for trainees to access medical care (not just mental health services) more efficiently in view of the often grueling hours that trainees work. Residents can call a dedicated number that helps expedite the triage process for their medical complaints, and can even have a virtual visit with a primary care provider instead of having to travel to a doctor's office. There is a psychologist-led program, funded by GME and based on positive psychology theory, that helps trainees and supervisors coach one another. "The sympathetic ear and that relationship are thought to be helpful to both the trainee and faculty member," says Catherine Kuhn, MD, director of graduate medicine education at DUHS.

Wellness efforts are spreading like wildfire, even beyond the walls of medical institutions. One example is the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Mental Health First Aid. This program offers training that helps people recognize early signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance misuse. Various programs are tailored to populations such as youth, adults, higher education, and public safety. The free program is part of a larger effort called the ThriveNYC Initiative.

Some people experience burnout through their academic work, others in a more personal sense. In any case, the medical community (and beyond) is beginning to take wellness seriously. Although there are many things to consider when selecting a medical school, residency program, or job, don't downplay the importance of the culture around wellness. Many institutions are working to create a safe and enjoyable work environment. Choose to be part of a culture that values your well-being.


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