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VOLVOX: Making Narrative Medicine Happen Alumni Speaker Series

Words for the Weary: Building House Staff Curricula for Professional Wellbeing

with Annie Robinson, MS’14

House staff - resident physicians training in their chosen speciality at an academic medical center for three + years - are notoriously underpaid and overworked. Burnout levels peak during this stage of a doctor’s journey, especially in intern year and winter months. Furthermore, moral fatigue exhausts physicians, when their personal ethics/values and what they’re asked to do conflict. Research suggests systemic and structural changes will make the greatest impact on ameliorating some of these challenges, but they often aren’t easy to enact, take time, and usually fall outside the scope of a trainee’s influence. What could we offer our trainees to prepare them for these inevitable challenges? To empower them, and protect their “why”? What skills do they need to navigate physical exhaustion and emotional distress? How can we teach these skills? Over the past eight years, Annie has created and teaches an extensive catalog of professional wellbeing sessions - many of which use NM methodology - which she delivers to graduate trainees at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine. She asks the house staff to identify topics they wish they had protected time to reflect on, such as: Making Mistakes, The Limits of Empathy, Fostering Camaraderie, and Getting Comfortable with Uncertainty. Annie will share her process for working with a GME program: how to identify pain points and use them to design a responsive curriculum, and teach and implement reflection and observation skills in a means to increase awareness, build inner resources, foster camaraderie, and mitigate symptoms of burnout.

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Additional Speakers

Cherie Henderson, MS'14