A new wellness curriculum developed by Northwestern Medicine faculty and residents may help decrease burnout among trainees, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development.
The six-step curriculum was developed by Danny Bega, MD, ’14 GME, associate professor in The Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology in the Division of Movement Disorders; along with Brian Stamm, MD, and Christina Lineback, MD, both current neurology residents; and Margaret Yu, MD, a former neurology resident and currently a fellow in the department.
Burnout has often been associated with medical education and specifically residency programs, often inducing emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and career dissatisfaction. These factors, according to the authors, can negatively impact residents’ learning environment, personal life and overall ability to provide care.
While wellness initiatives for residency programs do exist, they only scratch the surface of addressing burnout by focusing mainly on community or team-building, according to Bega.
To address this gap, Bega and his team conducted literature reviews on burnout and wellness, and collected input from fellow faculty and residents to develop a six-step Wellness Curriculum for any residency program.
The six steps of the curriculum include: creating a wellness committee with a resident wellness liaison, identification and optimization of institutional resources, identifying and troubleshooting barriers to wellness, providing education and reflection on wellness, showing appreciation to each other, and assessing the impact of the implemented strategies.
“We aimed to create a more lasting structural change to the program where the impact would be felt in everyday work-life and to make the residents active participants in this process,” Bega said.
According to the authors, the intent of having these six steps is to minimize administrative tasks, promote progressive autonomy, enhance professional relationships, and educate residents and faculty in identifying symptoms of burnout and assisting those who experience symptoms.
To review the curriculum’s impact, the six-step program was implemented in Northwestern’s neurology residency program in July 2017. After three years, residents were asked to evaluate the program and their state of wellness during their residency though administered questionnaires.
Overall, all residents reported having benefitted from the curriculum, with many noting that they enjoyed having flexibility, having a support system at work and being able to find meaning in day-to-day work, according to the authors.
Bega added that while resources differ between institutions, the basic structure and steps of the curriculum can be reproduced by any program.
The authors received no financial support for this work.