Skip to navigation Skip to Content

 Stress awaits you

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​“Look at the person to your left. Now look at the person to your right. At the end of this year only one of you will be here.” 

Dr. Steve Shama, a guest presenter at a recent Grand Rounds recalled an attending who paraphrased this line from the movie Paper Chase, to a group of new PGY1s. However, the attending then stated “Look at the resident to your left and the resident to your right. I will do everything in my power to help each of you be here at the end of the year.” The message? You are valued here and I will do everything I can to help you be successful.

The activities of the Resident Well Being Committee are one of the Division of Education’s ways of sharing this message with you. You are valued here. Your success is important to us. A recent in house study on stress/burnout by the RWBC compared new residents to those with one or more years of training. New residents reported significantly less emotional exhaustion than residents farther into their training. The likely conclusion: stress awaits you.

Recent RWBC activities to support residents in managing stress and being successful have included: sponsoring a half day retreat- a first for DOE- from which we have received much helpful input to develop future programs; completing an assessment of stress/burnout among residents from which we have obtained cross-sectional data as noted above and will follow-up longitudinally to monitor stress indices over the course of training; production and distribution of a DVD to PGY1s regarding common stresses of first year and recommendations on how to manage them- all from interviews with residents who recently completed their first year; and, meeting with new residents to promote discussion of stresses and to give the message that acknowledging stress, engaging in self-care and providing mutual support are healthy activities and not signs of weakness.

The RWBC is here to support your success. Please contact us (via email) for a confidential consultation or to suggest ways we can support your success in residency. To close, try this very short self-care activity. Take a deep breath. Hold it to the count of three. Very slowly exhale and at the same time tell yourself “There is support to manage the stresses.” Be well.

Jerry Goldberg, M.D. Mike Schulein, Ph.D. Vicki Viegut, M.D. K.J. Williams, M.D.