Introduction: Physicians are at much higher risk for burnout, depression, and suicide than their non-medical peers. One of the working groups from the May 2017 Resident Wellness Consensus Summit (RWCS) addressed this issue through the development of a longitudinal residency curriculum to address resident wellness and burnout.
Methods: A 30-person (27 residents, three attending physicians) Wellness Curriculum Development workgroup developed the curriculum in two phases. In the first phase, the workgroup worked asynchronously in the Wellness Think Tank – an online resident community – conducting a literature review to identify 10 core topics. In the second phase, the workgroup expanded to include residents outside the Wellness Think Tank at the live RWCS event to identify gaps in the curriculum. This resulted in an additional seven core topics.
Results: Seventeen foundational topics served as the framework for the longitudinal resident wellness curriculum. The curriculum includes a two-module introduction to wellness; a seven-module “Self-Care Series” focusing on the appropriate structure of wellness activities and everyday necessities that promote physician wellness; a two-module section on physician suicide and self-help; a four-module “Clinical Care Series” focusing on delivering bad news, navigating difficult patient encounters, dealing with difficult consultants and staff members, and debriefing traumatic events in the emergency department; wellness in the workplace; and dealing with medical errors and shame.
Conclusion: The resident wellness curriculum, derived from an evidence-based approach and input of residents from the Wellness Think Tank and the RWCS event, provides a guiding framework for residency programs in emergency medicine and potentially other specialties to improve physician wellness and promote a culture of wellness.