“When you discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough to make room for it in your life”—Jean Shinoda Bolen
Resident Life - Pediatric Residency
Balance and well-being are paramount for our residents, and living and training in Vermont is really unmatched for achieving this goal. Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful in Vermont, but Burlington is a vibrant city that provides opportunities for any interest. Burlington is a diverse community rich with culture, including farm-to-table restaurants, art festivals, and concerts. Outdoor activities for all seasons are very easily accessible in Burlington and surrounding communities.
Annually, we hold resident retreats for each class, in addition to an all-resident retreat. Each retreat includes a small curricular component; but the majority of that day is devoted to exploring Vermont through the lens of well-being and camaraderie. Examples of past retreats have included zip-lining, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, and apple picking – to name a few. The curricular component included for each respective year falls into the following themes:
PGY-1 retreat: “Teamwork and Adult Learning”
PGY-2 retreat: “Leadership and Professional Development”
PGY-3 retreat: “Looking Forward”
All-resident retreat: “Camaraderie and Wellness”
Wellness amongst our residents and faculty is promoted first and foremost through our culture of collegiality and acceptance. Residents and faculty are on a first-name basis with a strong focus of mentorship and support. Family-centered care is practiced with multi-disciplinary teamwork that emphasizes collaboration and respect.
We have created a “house system” called OWLS (Our Wellness and Lifestyle System) for residents, faculty, nurses, staff, and other inter-disciplinary team members are sorted into teams. During each block of our academic year, various challenges/tasks are assigned that promote wellness (for example, visiting your primary care provider or dentist, hiking, exploring new locations in Vermont, eating lunch with an attending). Points are awarded for each activity completed, and winning teams are announced at the end of each block for a chance to win the OWLS trophy at the end of the year!
We have also designed and incorporated an administrative half-day built into our curriculum. This is accessible for all residents during the majority of their rotations. We recognize the importance of dedicated time for residents to complete tasks related to program requirements, research, advocacy, and wellness.
We have a committee composed of current residents and faculty to promote wellness within the program. This team holds Healers Reflection sessions monthly for residents to debrief and discuss topics as a group. The wellness committee also hosts social events at the end of each block for residents to meet outside of work. The program hosts debriefs after patient deaths or cases with complex/difficult medical treatment, attended by residents, faculty, staff, and other team members. Other recent wellness initiatives in the program have included the elimination of 24-hour shifts as well as removal of night call cross coverage shifts for senior residents on elective rotations.
Maintaining resident mental health and wellness is a program priority. We have partnered with a local Clinical Social Worker who provides counseling and therapy sessions for our residents. All residents are encouraged to participate in sessions regularly which are scheduled on an opt-out basis. Group sessions are also held for each residency class throughout the year. The UVM Employee and Family Assistance Program is also available to residents to schedule appointment for mental health needs.
We also recognize the importance of flexibility for residents to support physical and mental health, as well as family planning. The ABP policy now allows for 8 weeks of leave for residents who complete a categorical pediatric training without the need to make-up this time. We encourage our residents to take time away as they need throughout their training. For residents returning from leave we have a variety of elective options that allow for flexibility and a smooth transition back to work.