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The Solution

Students practicing yogaWellness Promotion, Burnout Prevention and Learning To Be Resilient

Despite the enhanced focus on wellness in medical education, there remain considerable challenges in successfully implementing a sustainable and fully functional longitudinal wellness curriculum. Indeed, our Student Wellness Committee and its faculty advisors are actively working to create for you the wellness-centered learning environment of the future. In a concerted effort to find an ideal curricular framework, the American Medical Association recently issued the AMA Medical Education Innovation Challenge which encouraged students around the nation to upend the traditional medical school curriculum with outside-the-box ideas, and to create projects emphasizing student wellness within the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium. Included among the ideas generated:

  • students build coping and self-care skills with goal-setting groups, reflection and cognitive behavioral therapy (University of Louisville School of Medicine)
  • curriculum that preserves idealism and humanism, and makes time for what they call gratitude, mindfulness and reflection (Eastern Virginia Medical School)
  • greater emphasis on social responsibility as a way to wellness (Yale School of Medicine).

These are all excellent ideas in their own right. At the UConn Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine, we are actively developing our own plan which strives to factor in student feedback.

At the core of our programming is the triple aim of wellness promotion, burnout prevention, and resiliency training. Learning to be resilient arises from the optimal integration of one’s core values, level of insight, and dedication to self-care through a healthy lifestyle. Our study of the research shows that the best way to successfully achieve and sustain these aims is through a multifaceted program that incorporates the eight major categories of wellness.

  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual
  • Environmental
  • Social
  • Financial
  • Emotional
  • Career

View Effectively Instituting a Longitudinal Wellness Curriculum for details of existing components and future plans for each of these categories. (poster by Sarah Fortin MS4 and Adam Perrin M.D.)

An essential focus of our work to date has been on stressing the importance of peer support. We are working hard to enhance our Big/Little Program and have recently implemented a Peer Support network. Improving accessibility and diversity of options available to students seeking mental health services is also a major focus.

Although individual programs and events are important components of a student wellness plan, the ultimate goal of the Wellness Committee is to foster a culture of wellness among students, faculty, and staff so that wellness becomes a central, rather than supplemental, part of the curriculum. During the first two years of  the MDelta Curriculum, which includes both medical and dental students, this will take the form of a longitudinal curriculum that provides students with concrete self-care skills including training in mindfulness-based stress reduction, periodic mental health checks, opportunities for regular physical activity, and creation of a network of supportive relationships with other students, faculty and staff. During third and fourth year, the emphasis will be on carving out protected time for wellness in the midst of the stressors of clerkship rotations and residency applications. The wellness skills that the students gain through this curriculum will ideally readily translate to active wellness promotion and burnout prevention as they embark upon residency training.