"The interesting thing that's come out of the research that Dr. Lebares has done is that burnout can be countered by mindfulness," said Jennifer M. Taylor, MD, MPH.
In this video, Jennifer M. Taylor, MD, MPH, provides a recap of her discussion “Promoting Wellness and Reducing Burnout: Resilience and Flourishing”, which she gave at the Society of Women in Urology (SWIU) Annual Clinical Mentoring Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Taylor is an assistant professor of urology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
The program committee asked me to give a session about individual steps that can be taken to try to promote one's own well-being. I gave a summary of what we have developed in our program in Houston at Baylor College of Medicine using what we designated as a resident wellness curriculum. Over the course of several years, we implemented multiple steps to try to improve the experience for the residents in terms of their wellness and try to reduce their burnout.
We showed that through these strategies, we were able to lower the reported rates of burnout on average among our resident group and maintain their personal feelings of achievement and satisfaction with the program. We've taken it a step further, which I went on to report during the session, in developing or trying a course that teaches stress resilience. What we know is that physicians are very burned out, residents are even more burned out. The [Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education] (ACGME), which governs how we run our residency programs and what we teach residents, mandates that we are paying more attention to and putting strategies in place for our residents.
We wanted to create something that was more like a skill that they learned during residency just in the same way that we teach how to do a certain surgery or how to address a certain medical condition that we treat. The stress resilience training teaches cognitive skills to try to give the individual some better habits that are more mindful. So really taking some mindfulness practices, but inserting them into day-to-day, even before an operation, in the middle of an operation, after an operation, the kinds of things that you run through your own mind, how you address stressors that you're experiencing, and how you process that.
All that to be said, we tried this course that has been developed by a surgeon at University of California, San Francisco named Carter Lebares, MD. This course we ran in our program, and we did see some nice indication that it was thought to be valuable and could be something we could try to continue doing.
The interesting thing that's come out of the research that Dr. Lebares has done is that burnout can be countered by mindfulness. That's been shown in a lot of different lines of work and professions, but also, maybe a marker of that, we don't want to put wellness and burnout on opposite ends of a scale. We want to look at ways that someone can thrive and do better in their day-to-day.
Dr. Lebares identified something called flourishing, which I brought up in my talk, in that if someone has sustained wellness or sustained feelings of well-being, even when they have more stress, they're able to bounce back and deal with it on a better day-to-day scale. That was the summary that I gave on Friday. It was highlighting some things that we've done in our program that are not specific to women trainees or even women in practice, but all of those who are in the profession and in training, and tried to give some examples that could be easily implemented in other places without a huge undertaking from the program in terms of cost or time.
This transcript has been edited for clarity.