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Wellness Program


The Internal Medicine Residency Education Program at St. Joseph's conducts a monthly Wellbeing & Personal Best (WPB) program.

The WPB was launched five years ago in response to a resident question:

“When is someone going to teach us how to balance our lives and careers…or are we supposed to figure it out on our own?”

In the first year, a mindfulness curriculum (adapted from the work of Epstein, Quill, Krasner, McDonald and Marshall, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 2008) was used as a framework, but this curriculum has gradually been replaced with a competency-based, experiential program that is grounded in resident perspectives and needs.

Resident-Driven Content

Each year, a six-member resident Wellbeing Committee drives the development and structure of the WPB curriculum. While a few standard elements of the program are presented each year, new elements are continuously developed to meet the challenges that residents experience in the quickly changing healthcare system.

Positive-Approach To Wellness

While physician wellness programs across the country generally focus on addressing the pathology of physician burnout and impairment, St. Joseph's program does not take this approach. The focus of our program is on the application of positive psychology, social constructivist learning theory, and appreciative inquiry to boost each resident’s individual and dynamic state of wellbeing, career-life balance, and personal best. These goals are attained through:

  • Learning of self-reflective and self-awareness practices
  • Gratitude practice
  • Experiential communication and professionalism workshops
  • Team-building and personal leadership development
  • One-on-one coaching with a Professional Life Coach.

Examples of standard sessions include:

  • Learning to Notice (conducted at the Phoenix Art Museum)
  • Professionalism: a moment-by-moment choice (conducted with video clips from popular television)
  • Managing Your 168 Weekly Hours (a time management workshop)
  • Balancing Your Life Wheel (a personal values, reflection, and goal-setting exercise)

Benefits Of The Wellness Program

The benefits of the WPB Program include attitudinal, behavioral and departmental cultural change. Residents report many benefits, including:

  • An increased understanding of mindfulness and its application throughout their work day
  • An increased ability to maintain professionalism when stressed
  • Increased time management and quality patient care practices
  • An ability to flex communication styles to move through situational conflict
  • Increased feeling of value and sense of belonging in the training program
  • Increased collegiality and appreciation of diversity within teams
  • An enhanced positive educational environment

Patti ThornEngaging in conversations with residents over the years about how to enhance their wellbeing has been an amazing adventure. We are now strongly aware of the limiting, auto-pilot beliefs that medical learners acquire throughout their training and come to accept (incorrectly) as truths. The WBP allows a resident-focused learning environment where these limiting beliefs are challenged, self awareness is enhanced, and new, expansive beliefs and behaviors can be developed. The results are astounding-- a mental shift among our residents from surviving to thriving, reduced stress, a higher level of personal satisfaction, a greater sense of work life balance, and achievement of some incredible personal and professional goals.
~Patti M Thorn, PhD, PCC

Osborne_BenjaminLife is always going to pitch you difficulties and it’s important for residents and physicians at all stages of their careers to learn to think and act with intention rather than being in a state of continuously reacting. Physicians need to discover how to be happy and well now rather than postponing to sometime into the future. Life should be fun. We want our residents to experience all life has to offer. 
~Ben Osborne, DO

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