The Wellness Committee was created by BWH Internal Medicine housestaff to address the pervasive issues of burnout, anxiety, and depression in residency by facilitating timely access to peer support, mental health care, and numerous other programs. We are committed to understanding what wellness and well-being mean to each resident of our program, and strive to enact lasting change that supports our current and future colleagues.
Resident Led Initiatives
The Resident Wellness committee is working to build multiple channels for peer support. During the primary COVID outbreak, we started hosting virtual debrief sessions run by residents. These sessions were aimed at providing support for residents during an incredibly difficult time and building our community while in-person gatherings were limited. Due to ongoing demand, these sessions have continued. They continue to help strengthen a sense of togetherness and allow us to share openly with one another.
The Peer Support Program is another of our wellness initiatives. With the guidance of the faculty peer support program at BWH, multiple residents have undergone training in 1:1 peer support. The goal of this program is to allow residents another space to process their emotions after adverse events, difficult rotations, or stressful situations. The goal of resident-run support is to reduce the power differential and other barriers that exist in many traditional program-lead support models. Both the virtual resident debriefs and the peer support program were developed with the goal of helping our community process the hardship and loss that we see and celebrate the successes and joy that come with being a resident.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created difficulty in fostering the sense of community that the Brigham and Women’s Internal Medicine Residency has long been known for. At the same time, local businesses in the Boston area have been suffering much emotional and economic pain through these challenging times. The Wellness Committee has begun the process of reaching out to local businesses to gauge interest in showing support for our residency through discount offers. We hope to create mutually beneficial partnerships in which residents can get together outside of the hospital in a safe manner, and local businesses can benefit from our patronage. We welcome any and all suggestions from our colleagues regarding businesses we should contact. If you have a restaurant, climbing gym, or a virtual home workout service in mind, let us know!
Ongoing Residency Wellness Programs
The BWH Internal Medicine Residency Humanistic Curriculum began in 1992 to foster resident well-being and humanistic qualities while preventing trainee burnout that can compromise personal and professional satisfaction. Interns are groups into cohorts that are co-facilitated by faculty in Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. The first session is an introductory retreat, and groups subsequently meet once monthly over lunch for 8 sessions to discuss specific topics that include making mistakes, bias and compassion, resilience, and end of life issues. (Readings and other materials are provided to help facilitate the discussion). The groups also participate in a “Night at the Museum” that occurs once during the fall and aims to explore how artistic works allow physicians-in-training to connect to humanistic values. This year we are transitioning to an innovative virtual Night at the Museum.
This academic year, we are piloting “Project SafeSpace” within the Junior Humanistic Curriculum. Project SafeSpace is a curriculum adapted from the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Resident (HAEMR) which establishes processing groups where residents can discuss challenging experiences as a group under the guidance of trained mental health professionals. Under the new format each ambulatory junior resident cohort will meet for an hour with a trained psychologist four times throughout the year. The sessions will include time for processing and open discussion, as well as dedicate time to teaching skills for emotional regulation. There is guaranteed 100% confidentiality and insights from the group are not shared with program leadership, unless a participant expresses suicidal ideation. The clinical psychologists are not affiliated with the BWH and do not work clinically with internal medicine residents, which we think is part of the value of this pilot! We plan to rigorously evaluate this new format through pre- and post-intervention surveys designed to solicit resident feedback about the experience.
While housestaff have many evaluators, letter-writers and mentors, the coaching program provides the opportunity to work with a faculty member who can help foster professional development in a non-evaluative coaching role. All categorical interns (including Primary Care and Medicine-Pediatrics) are paired with a coach outside their area of professional interest who has participated in training to develop their coaching skills. The goal is to establish a safe environment for interns to reflect on their performance, honestly discuss their professional development, and identify and understand how to optimize their strengths to overcome challenges and stressors. Recognizing that our Black and LatinX residents face additional challenges and stressors, we have made a concerted effort to recruit more UIM faculty as coaches this year — while also remaining committed as a residency program to address systemic issues that contribute to these additional stressors.
The Faculty / Trainee Mental Health Program provides rapid-access (usually within 72 hours of initial contact) mental health consultations in the form of a free, confidential, 30-minute visit with a psychiatrist or psychologist. There is the opportunity for six follow up visits. The program has been operational since May 2018. We are currently working with the program to optimize access via an opt-out strategy with enhanced scheduling capability.
All BWH IM residents have free access to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Longwood Symphony and the Boston Symphony performances. Facilitated teambuilding exercises are held at the MFA during their integrated teaching unit experiences, and have reflective explorations at the Museum with their humanistic curriculum group once during their intern year.
Faculty – Staci Eisenberg
Assistant Program Director for Wellness
Resident Led Debriefs: TBD
10/14: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Session 2 – Making Mistakes; Shame and Guilt (12:30-1:30pm)
10/22: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Group 1 – Night at the (virtual) Museum (6:00-8:00 pm)
TBD – Junior Humanistic Curriculum Group C – Virtual Museum Session
11/5: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Group 2 – Night at the (virtual) Museum (6:00-8:00 pm)
11/11: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Session 3 – Self-Compassion (12:30-1:30pm)
11/12: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Group 5 – Night at the (virtual) Museum (6:00-8:00 pm)
11/13: Junior Humanistic Curriculum Group D – Virtual Museum Session
11/19: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Group 6 – Night at the (virtual) Museum (6:00-8:00 pm)
12/4: Junior Humanistic Curriculum Group A – Virtual Museum Session
12/9: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Session 4 – Bias & Compassion (12:30-1:30pm)
12/17: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Group 3 – Night at the (virtual) Museum (6:00-8:00 pm)
1/6: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Session 5 – Burnout and Depression (12:30-1:30pm)
1/8: Junior Humanistic Curriculum Group B – Virtual Museum Session
1/14: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Group 4 – Night at the (virtual) Museum (6:00-8:00 pm)
2/9: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Session 6 – Resiliency (12:30-1:30pm)
3/17: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Session – Work-Life Balance (12:30-1:30pm)
4/14: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Session – End of Life Issues (12:30-1:30pm)
5/25: Intern Humanistic Curriculum Spring Retreat