Trainee Wellness: Why It Matters, and How to Promote It

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Abstract

Wellness is critical to physicians in training and the general physician workforce. At present, physicians in general and especially intensive care unit physicians are experiencing high rates of depression and burnout. The prevalence of burnout is greatest in resident and fellow trainees. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has recognized the importance of physician wellness by proposing Common Program Requirements that pertain to trainee and faculty well-being. Several individual-focused, organizational, and structural strategies have been described in the literature as helpful in decreasing burnout. Successful implementation of a trainee wellness program requires institutional resources and collaborative efforts between the institution, leadership, faculty, and trainees. To ensure the greatest effect in reducing burnout, training programs and institutions should create programs that intervene at both the organizational and individual levels. Additional steps to implement a trainee wellness program include the following: (1) establish support from institutional and divisional leadership; (2) create a wellness committee; (3) perform a needs assessment; (4) assess trainee wellness and burnout; (5) perform targeted interventions; and (6) routinely reassess trainee wellness and burnout. More research is needed to identify and refine strategies that improve wellness and decrease burnout among physicians and trainees. As a community, we must take on the challenge of improving wellness among physicians for the benefit of our trainees, ourselves, and our patients.

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