Promoting Resident Wellness: Evaluation of a Time-Off Policy to Increase Residents’ Utilization of Health Care Services

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To evaluate awareness and utilization of a new institutional policy to grant residents time off to access personal and family health care.


In 2012, two years after policy implementation, an electronic survey was sent to all 546 residents and fellows at a tertiary care academic medical center in the United States. Residents were asked questions regarding awareness of the time-off policy, use of the policy, health care status, reasons for policy use, and barriers to use.


A total of 490 (90%) residents responded. Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed were aware of the policy. Of those who were aware, 49.7% used the policy to access health care. Top reasons for policy use were for personal routine or preventive health care, dental care, and urgent health care needs. The most commonly reported barrier to policy use was concern about the impact the resident’s absence would have on colleagues.


Implementation of policies to prospectively schedule residents’ time off during business hours to address health care needs is an important means to promote resident wellness. Such policies remove one commonly cited barrier to residents’ access to health care. However, residents still reported concerns about impact on peers and patients as the main reason they were reluctant to take the time off to address their health care needs. More work is needed on both wellness policy implementation practices and on refining the systems that will allow seamless and guiltless transitions of care.

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