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Wellness in Learning

The Northwestern Department of Surgery understands that wellness is complex, multifactorial, and highly individual. We seek simply to support our residents as they acquire the knowledge and skills to operate, conduct science, educate, and lead American surgery.”

Dr. Yue-Yung Hu, MD, MPH
Associate Program Director, General Surgery

Annual Resident Retreat 2020 - kayaking on the Chicago River

First Annual Pumpkin Carving Competition

Resident Wellness

Providing care to patients begins with caring for oneself.  The Department of Surgery and it's training programs value the physical and emotional well-being of its trainees.  Recent studies highlight high rates of burnout, depression and stress among physicians, so much effort is put towards making wellness a priority in surgery.

Each training program has its own dedicated Wellness Committee.  The General Surgery Residency has a funded Wellness Committee, in which resident voices are prioritized. Led by PGY 4 Courtney Harris and PGY 3 Audra Reiter, and advised by Associate Program Director Yue-Yung Hu, MD, MPH, the Committee has initiated a diverse array of projects to improve the training experience including improved snacks and drinks in the resident library, dedicated protected educational/development/wellness time on Thursdays, a peer support program, annual all resident retreat, quarterly class dinners, and holiday activities. Given the potential impact of mistreatment on resident wellness, the Wellness Committee also partners with the General Surgery Program Leadership and the Department of Surgery Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to support initiatives such as microaggression training.

The different training programs' leadership and staff also organize wellness initiatives for their trainees.  The General Surgery program supplements the efforts of their Wellness Committee to ensure monthly celebratory gatherings to encourage resident comradery.  Multiple lines of communication have been established in order to create a culture of support within the program including creation of an anonymous reporting system, weekly meetings with administrative chief residents, and rotating weekly meetings with each PGY class.  Conferences are organized on the topic of well-being and staff schedule residents for optional, confidential, bi-annual 1:1 counseling sessions through Perspectives, a third party wellness resource. And recently an annual Family Orientation has been implemented following the research and direction of the SECOND Trial project to prepare families for life during residency and to provide them with connections and support resources. 

With the assistance of a faculty and resident led task force, the Department of Surgery and the General Surgery program has recently introduced a Department ombudsperson for residents to voice concerns.  You can find information on our Department ombudsperson and other avenues for reporting mistreatment here (page coming soon).

Additional wellness resources that are offered through our Graduate Medical Education office, McGaw, can be found on their Wellness Page here.

Wellness Research

Yue-Yung Hu, MD, MPH, Associate Program Director, and Karl Bilimoria, MD, MS, Director of SOQIC, are the co-principal investigators of The SECOND Trial, a cluster-randomized controlled trial of 212 general surgery residency programs throughout the country that seeks to generate much needed evidence about surgical resident well-being. Northwestern residents spending their research years at SOQIC are integral to the conduct of the SECOND Trial, and have authored many high impact publications on resident wellness. These data have informed wellness efforts within the Department of Surgery. 

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