The University of Rochester Family Medicine Department has made wellness one of our number one priorities. We understand that clinicians and staff who are taking care of their own mental, physical and spiritual health will provide better care for our patients and will be more likely to have long and joyful practices.
Resident wellness is integral to the central principles of our program. We have multiple levels of supports in place. Each year, there are two PGY4's, that function as chief residents, whose central role is to support the resident body and advocate for resident well-being and education. Interns are paired with second year residents, who teach them the ropes of navigating the complexities of residencies and of managing complex patient panels. Each resident is paired with a faculty advisor throughout the 3 years of residency, who provides guidance for their individualized academic development, as well as their wellbeing and advocate for them as needed. We use Balint groups and peer support groups to help residents process difficult patient cases and support one another. The way that our residents support one another has been noted by many applicants and residents as one of the hallmarks of our program.
Our annual Spring Residency Retreat focused on Wellness as its recurring theme. We plan to use the opportunity every year to reflect on the progress our department has made in supporting clinician and staff wellness and also highlight any ongoing areas for improvement. During the most recent retreat, we did some problem solving exercises around both institutional and personal barriers and facilitators of well-being. In addition we all did an intense 7-minute workout and had the opportunity to get massages and osteopathic manipulation.
In 2017, we created a department wide Wellness Committee whose mission was to promote wellness among all members of the department. The committee consisted of representatives from all different roles in our department including residents, faculty, administrative, and clinical staff. Our first meeting was in May 2017, and we had three areas of focus including: Physical and Mental Health, Work Environment, and Social and Food.
The Physical and Mental Health group had many exciting projects that including: a meditation session every Wednesday at lunch (currently on hold due to COVID), a peer support program, making the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for mental health therapy more accessible and a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) drop off location at Highland Family Medicine (currently on hold due to COVID) for healthy fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers.
The Environment Team spearheaded a community garden, more bike racks, and advocated for improved work stations that allow for sitting or standing.
The Social and Food group organized events focusing on plant based eating, increasing the social events organized by the suites (currently on hold due to COVID), adding nutritional information to vending machine displays in the clinic.
The committee activities on these three domains have been placed on hold for the time being due to COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, we hope to reincorporate these once we are able, as the importance of these components have been grounded firmly in our departmental culture. Recently the department and the clinic leadership, along with the departmental wellness representatives (one faculty physician and one nurse practitioner), connected with the URMC wellness committee, have been focused on the institutional changes that would affect the wellbeing of clinicians and staff. Surveys are sent regularly both from URMC and from the department to assess the wellness of the clinicians and the staff, and to take actions for what gets in the way of their daily work lives. Wellness is an important factor to consider when we discuss business at multiple levels-leadership, suite leaders meetings, suite meetings, and even when we discuss quality improvement projects and work efficiency. Residents are strongly encouraged to give feedback to the Chief residents, residency administrators, and the suite faculty, so their voices are reflected in the improvement of the workflow.
Additionally, we recently started exercise group medical visits for patients that medical students, residents and fellows help to facilitate (and can used to get in a little exercise during clinic time!) One of our faculty physicians is a Bollywood Zumba instructor and during her residency here at HFM, she lead a session which was incredibly fun and provided a great work out for all who participated! While there is still a lot of work to be done, we are excited to continue the legacy of the biopsychosocial model in Rochester as it pertains not just to patient wellness but to all who work here.