Medical Training & Physician Wellness: No More Drowning

Recent studies have shed light on a concerning trend among physicians in-training:   un-wellness.  This is manifest in increased burnout, depression and suicide rates seen among those undergoing medical training when compared to other professions. This crisis becomes cyclic when physicians with low baseline levels of wellness are unable to give optimal patient care, which in turn detrimentally influences their poor levels of wellness.  Historically physician wellness has not been a focus of medical training.  New endeavors are hampered by inadequate structure, funding and resources.

How can we learn how to swim when we are already drowning?

Governing bodies, professional associations, training programs and individual fellows and residents have all recognized the need for change.  Each entity has a unique responsibility and an exciting opportunity help transition us from surviving to thriving.

Let’s learn how to swim.

The ACGME is the governing body that provides a national standard for graduate medical education and validated measuring tools for the evaluation of our programs and trainees. They have built strategies for the ideal learning environment, which include increased awareness of depression, formal mentor programs and official wellness curriculums. These recommendations provide consistent methods for medical education to utilize for the improvement of wellness.

Professional associations such as ACEP offer many educational opportunity, resources and forums that allow members to discuss and share ideas on how to improve wellness within a specific specialty.  Training programs apply the national and professional standards to the individualized need of the trainees and the resources available to the program.

Individual fellow and resident investment in their personal wellness is vital. Awareness of individual and colleague wellness is the first step in finding a solution.  The next step is utilizing the various resources available. Lastly, commitment to ongoing individual care including personal outlets such as physical activity, spirituality, creativity, nutrition and restoration are invaluable to help achieve the wellness that we all desire.

Coordinated sustained practice will help us swim in stormy waters

Physician wellness is a multi-dimensional problem; and thus cannot be fixed by one-dimensional solutions.  Collaboration of each entity listed above is vital to the success of improved wellness. We must continue to transition from a mindset of burnout and fatigue recovery to conservation of wellness.

For more information:

ACEP Wellness:


Stephanie Moses, DO

Clinical Instructor in Pediatrics

Northeast Ohio Medical University

PEM Fellow, PGY5

Division of Emergency Services

Akron Children’s Hospital


Esther Lutes, MD,

Associate Professor Pediatrics & Emergency Medicine

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Associate Fellowship Director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Division of Emergency Services

Akron Children’s Hospital

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