It is a program that deeply values its residents' wellness and education and actually shows it. Our faculty and administration are extremely responsive to any feedback, which shows me that they value us and our opinions. Everyone is committed to helping others; these are the kindest and smartest people I’ve ever met."
Kaitlin Kyi, MD
Chief Resident, Class of 2020
Resident wellness is absolutely critical to optimize patient care and residents’ ability to learn and grow into outstanding and compassionate independent physicians. While we do a number of “extra” things to help ensure resident wellness, most fundamentally residents must have the following to achieve wellness during residency:
- They must feel supported by their program. This includes reasonable workload expectations, truly prioritizing teaching and education, consistently treating residents fairly and with respect and kindness, feeling heard when they raise concerns, and having a voice in how the program runs.
- They must feel supported by the people. This includes feeling that they can trust their co-residents and faculty to look out for their best interests; they must feel that their colleagues are looking to support and teach them, rather than compete with them or push work onto them. They should not feel afraid to speak up to anyone when they have concerns or suggestions of any type. They should respect, trust, and like the people they’re working with. And ideally, they also have fun being with their colleagues.
- They must believe in the importance and value of the work they do. This includes keeping sight of the reasons they chose a career in medicine and believing that they are helping their patients.
Learn more about the University's wellness initiatives.
Recurring Wellness Programs
In addition to these core principles, we support a number of different recurring activities that promote resident wellness. Many of these activities bring our residents together to build and foster the community of residents who support each other. These include:
- Happy Hours—Each ambulatory block, the program supports a happy hour (food and drinks) for all of the ambulatory block residents and their significant others at a restaurant near the clinics
- “Happy Breakfasts”—At the end of each night float block, the program sends all of the night float residents out for breakfast together at the breakfast spot of their choosing (exploring the local diner scene is a longstanding Rochester tradition)
- Reflection Rounds—Each ambulatory block, a consistent group of residents meets over lunch with a single, senior faculty member with experience facilitating group discussions. The group of ~8 residents, a mixture of R1s, R2s, and R3s, discusses challenges they face as physicians, whether difficult patient interactions they faced (in a Balint-type discussion) or topics relating to challenges we face as physicians, such as coping with work-life balance challenges, navigating stressful conversations, career decision-making, and fatigue/burnout mitigation. The faculty facilitators are deliberately outside of residency program leadership, creating a “safe space” for confidential discussions to occur, and the group aims to build resiliency. The faculty member and group of residents is consistent from year to year (aside from graduating R3s and entering R1s each year), which allows for comfort and trust to grow in the group and for faculty and peer-mentoring relationships to form and extend beyond the designated meetings.
- Friday Noon Wellness Sessions—These occur at least monthly, and cover a range of topics, including mindfulness, narrative medicine, financial wellness, resiliency, and “fun” topics.
- Resident and faculty yoga (led by one of our beloved critical care attendings)—This group has started meeting monthly at the Medical Center for residents and core faculty to bend together. Bring your own mat or borrow one of the program’s.
- Monthly Noon Conference Business Meetings: This is a forum in which residents are involved in decisions and challenges facing the program, and residents are encouraged to raise concerns of any type. Cake is served each month as we celebrate the residents’ birthdays from the month.
Wellness “Special Events”
Beyond the above recurring events each month or ambulatory block, we have a number of “special events” throughout the year. These include:
- New intern orientation: We take this very seriously. Orientation occurs over ~10 days and includes a number of social events that foster intern connections to each other and within the program. Highlights include the dinner with Dr. O’Connor on the banks of the Erie Canal, a competitive group scavenger hunt throughout the Rochester region ending in dinner with the chief residents, and the Annual “Fare-Thee-Welcome” family picnic on the shore of Lake Ontario with all of the other residents in the program and core teaching faculty.
- Intern Retreat: This annual highlight is held in September every year in Letchworth Park, which has been nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the East.” All interns are “liberated” from their other duties to spend the day connecting, sharing wellness and coping strategies, eating, and selecting from a variety of other activities, including whitewater rafting through the canyon, hiking along the gorge and waterfalls, mountain biking, yoga, and Finger Lakes wine tasting. Some interns are even rumored to camp in Letchworth the night before.
- Annual Department Holiday Party: Every year residents and local residency graduates dress up and enjoy a formal celebration of the new year and holidays with department faculty members, with the night culminating in some very serious dancing.
- Resident appreciation week: This typically occurs in February, and includes a special breakfast served by program and department leadership and an afternoon “ice cream social.”
- R2 Dinner: This spring event brings all of the R2s together for a night of fine dining and fun.
- “Becoming an R2 Day”: This occurs at the end of intern year, and brings all of the interns together to help them prepare for stepping into the “senior resident” roles.
- Annual R3 Graduation Banquet: This formal event brings all of our graduating residents and their families together with their favorite faculty members to celebrate their successful completion of residency. The event is typically held at either the George Eastman House or the Memorial Art Gallery.
- Annual Resident-Faculty Jeopardy Grand Rounds: Every year a team of graduating R3s competes with a team of core residency faculty members to see who will win the coveted jeopardy prize. Teams dress according to themes every year (eg, superheros vs villains). This contest is followed by our annual awards celebration.
- Additional Program Wide Social Events: We typically have a few of these sprinkled through the year. They have included outdoor “happy hours,” fall apple picking, sledding, and there’s rumored to be a “ninja warrior” event in the works….
Additional Wellness Resources
The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) has a large number of additional wellness resources and activities available to all residents and fellows at the Medical Center.