LECOM Health Psychiatry Resident Wellness Pilot

Residency training can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining which is why the goal of the LECOM Health Psychiatry Resident Wellness Pilot was to create and implement a program that promotes resident wellness based on the four domains of wellbeing: professional, physical, psychological, and social wellbeing. By providing residents with healthy outlets, we hope to create an environment of camaraderie, unity, and support. Initially, our pilot program will work with the psychiatry residents at LECOM Health who are continuously exposed to and bombarded with emotionally and spiritually disheartening and draining stories of trauma, abuse, and/or neglect. We want to make sure that our residents are able to return to their families and loved ones with a lesser burden from the stress of caring for their patients. We strive to provide an environment for our residents to become beacons of wellness and healing who inspire others - we want to be the future of well-physician training.

Our program is founded on the osteopathic mind-body-spirit principle - appreciating the strong and delicate connection among them all. Therefore, our program implements various modalities to help residents manage stress, burnout, and frustrations. Our first step was implementing a yoga/mindfulness series. Each session lasted approximately one hour and occurred once a month over six months. The sessions will be implemented during regularly scheduled didactics. By offering these classes at the LECOM Wellness Center, we hope to encourage resident use of this complimentary facility during residency training.

Next, our plan we introduced "healthier" food alternatives to our residents. The resident lounge offered bottled water, fruits/vegetables, and healthier snacks to all residents. In addition to the yearly residency picnic, we hope to introduce a local residency retreat during the winter months that will be open to families of residents as well. By bringing together families, we hope to inspire unity and camaraderie while limiting the feelings of depression, loneliness, and isolation that can occur during residency training.

At the start of the program, residents and fellows were introduced to the Burnout Prevention Program by the Chief Resident (Dr. Martone) and the Integrative Medicine Fellow/instructor Dr. Harmon Arora. Residents were informed that the purpose of the program is to identify signs/symptoms of burnout and learn/utilize various coping skills to prevent illness state. We discussed/reviewed ways in which burnout can present and how it can influence patient care. Residents were made aware that the primary coping skills introduced for this program revolve around Eastern Medicine (specifically meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques).

Residents were taught various Eastern Medicine coping skills during the Burnout Prevention Program. Dr. Arora introduced various yoga techniques for every level of training. She explained how movements, breathing, and stillness can calm the mind and reduce physical ailments. Accordingly, residents and fellows were introduced to different various breathing techniques that could be used during stressful moments and also taught to patients. Various ideologies, philosophies, and mantras/beliefs were introduced and discussed.

As psychiatry residents, the majority of participants described stress and imbalance with physical ailments, including, but not limited to: amotivation, poor concentration, difficulty remembering responsibilities, decreased energy, and not wanting to report to work for the day. Other residents described stress as having the symptoms of "moderate depression."

We feel having a certified yoga instructor like our program did, helped the most. Dr. Arora offered such great insight into the mind-body connection. She taught the residents so many healthy and easily-accessible coping skills.

After the program, most of the residents shared that they are teaching patients to use breathing skills taught in our program. Accordingly, we are working on recognizing our own signs of burnout and express this to one another - residents appear more willing to lend a hand and spend extra time helping out.

Residents have also been encouraging patients to journal while on the unit and participate in yoga upon discharge. The inpatient child and adolescent unit is also working to have certified yoga instructors come to teach the kids - with the plan to expand onto the adult unit.

The benefits of this program have been outstanding! We plan on continuing through next year.