Resident Wellness Matters: Optimizing Resident Education and Wellness Through the Learning Environment


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Abstract

The problem of poor mental health in residency is well established. Burnout, depression, and suicidal ideation are prevalent among resident physicians, and these problems appear to persist into practice. Leaders in graduate medical education such as policy makers at the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and directors of individual programs and institutions should acknowledge these important issues and take steps to address them. The ACGME’s Clinical Learning Environment Review (CLER) Program currently outlines an expectation that institutions both educate residents about burnout and measure burnout annually. The CLER Program could go further by expecting institutions to create quality initiatives to enhance resident wellness and increase resident engagement. The ACGME should also call for and support research in this area. Leaders or directors of individual programs and institutions should consider wellness initiatives that both (1) identify and address suboptimal aspects of the learning environment and (2) train residents in resilience skills. Efforts to improve the residency learning environment could be guided by the work of Maslach and Leiter, who describe six categories of work stress that can contribute to burnout: (1) workload, (2) control, (3) balance between effort and reward, (4) community, (5) fairness, and (6) values.

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