By Heidi Hubbard, MD, FAAP
Many of us remember residency as the best, and most stressful, time on the path to becoming practicing physicians. It marks the period in training when a person is most likely to get derailed because very little margin exists to allow for balancing work and life. Trainees are especially vulnerable, considering their long hours, increasing responsibility, financial stress and limited time for personal health and wellness. A recent review of three years of national data about burnout in pediatric residency published in Pediatrics showed that a majority of residents met burnout criteria. But for anyone who has lived through residency, this information is not new.
In 2007, I established a fund at the University of Minnesota Medical School – where I completed my residency training – to provide an emotional and financial safety net for unforeseen life events as young doctors moved through residency. One of the most critical areas of need is financial stability. The Pediatric Resident Wellness Fund provides hardship grants for immediate support for residents who experience significant and unexpected financial burdens. Residents access the grants to relieve the stress associated with costs of travel for a family emergency or funeral, medical expenses, mental health resources, car repairs, child care and other critical needs. Ensuring residents can focus on their personal life demonstrates our commitment to their overall wellbeing.
Enhancements to the pediatric resident lounge at M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital allowed for a dedicated space for residents to connect, socialize and relax with one another. The fund also created social and networking opportunities for residents, promoting community building, camaraderie and volunteerism. In 2017, the program sought to expand its mission by supporting an annual wellness retreat to connect residents with one another, reflect on their experiences and renew their purpose. Throughout the year, residents have opportunities to engage in wellness activities including meditation and yoga classes, participate in a wellness leadership series, enjoy healthy meals, and take part in other programs dedicated to promoting residents’ wellbeing during a demanding time.
Creating meaningful opportunities for residents to promote compassion and resilience has brought me great joy. I encourage you to consider ways you can support the next generation of pediatricians, whether through mentorship or programs like the Pediatric Resident Wellness Fund at the University of Minnesota. If you are interested in learning more, contact Jonna Schnettler, director of development with the University of Minnesota Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.