“When you discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough to make room for it in your life”—Jean Shinoda Bolen
Balance and well-being are paramount for our residents, and living and training in Vermont provides a host of opportunities. 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 day includes a team-enhancing educational session in the morning with the afternoon dedicated to class camaraderie. Examples of past retreat activities have included beach days, 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 who are sorted into teams, ala Harry Potter (Firstindor, Hopkinpuff, Rineclaw, and Slytherimming). 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 selfie that documents the activity was 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 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. In addition to the UVM Employee and Family Assistance Program, our pediatrics program has partnered with a local psychologist who dedicates time to providing counseling and therapy sessions for our residents as needed, whose schedules required a flexible provider.
We also recognize the importance of flexibility for residents to support physical and mental health, as well as family planning. The American Board of Pediatrics policy allows for an additional six weeks of leave from training for residents in good standing who complete a categorical pediatric training without the need to make-up or extend this time. For residents returning from leave, we have a variety of elective options that allow for flexibility and a smooth transition back to work.