In addition to the ever-present need for balance in the residency experience, the new reality of COVID has made the focus on wellness more important and urgent than ever. Fortunately, a new Resident Wellness program created by Residency Associate Program Director Anna Momont, MD – and piloted right before COVID – is resulting in positive and healthy outcomes for our learners at a time when they need it the most.
With the COVID surge in the summer of 2020, and all the social distancing and COVID pre-cautions in place, residency meetings were moved outdoors to fulfill the wish to reconnect in person. Those opportunities were then extended to social gatherings outside to celebrate Halloween with learners and their families, and later to offer holiday gifts to the residents and clinical fellows to show our support and appreciation for all their hard work (including dressing our Program Director, Andrew Thliveris, MD, in a snug elf costume).
These small islands of social interactions led to conversations about wellness and what activities could bring the residents together during these difficult times.
Dr. Momont and several resident champions then established a Wellness Committee, charged with identifying opportunities to promote wellness and togetherness and prevent burnout. The committee has worked to identify and plan activities to meet these goals. The Education unit supported this initiative with funding, but also brought clinical fellows and post-doctorate learners to the table. These new processes and input from residents resulted in more activities and greater inclusion of our DOVS learners.
A spring wellness retreat in 2021 included axe throwing, mini golf and hiking with families. In addition, the committee has successfully orchestrated multiple team-building outings, highlights include a pontoon boat ride and escape room adventure. In addition, lectures regarding financial wellness, finding your first job, and improved communication with patients were championed by the Wellness Committee. And of course, lots of snacks in the call room to help get through long on-call shifts.
Overall, the DOVS Education Team remains committed to the physical and emotional wellness of all our learners, and will continue to adapt to changing needs, no matter what the world throws at us!