Given the growing evidence surrounding physician burnout and mental health in medicine, wellness has become a hot topic of interest in graduate medical education. We are keenly aware of these trends and have made wellness one of the central pillars of our residency program to mitigate burnout and promote physician well-being. Although we certainly sponsor and organize wellness events, our program leadership understands that wellness goes far beyond isolated social gatherings. Rather, it is accomplished through an intentional and multifaceted effort to foster work-life balance and healthy work culture. Overall, we believe that wellness is one of our strongest attributes that separates us from any other residency program.
At our program, we believe that 190 clinical hours per ER month is optimal to maintain wellness and a strong clinical experience. Roughly, this translates to about 16-18 ten to twelve-hour ER shifts per month during the intern year. The number of hours per shift and per month progressively drop with each subsequent post-graduate year. The rationale for longer shifts during the intern year is that interns are expected to see fewer patients per hour. Thus, they work longer hours to see enough patients per shift. However, one of our unique wellness initiatives is that interns have protected time at night and do not work overnight shifts during the ER months. Additionally, we have an open line of communication between residents and program leadership to accommodate schedule changes and special requests.
Living and working in Sarasota, our residents and their families live a comfortable and laid-back lifestyle that allows them to wholeheartedly focus on their training. Despite being a midsize city, Sarasota has a relaxed beach town atmosphere that reflects the “Work hard, live easy” culture of our residency program. As the only major hospital in the area, we have the luxury of a bustling ER that stands in sharp contrast to the serene waters that the hospital overlooks. To portray this dynamic, a typical workday in the life of an FSU Sarasota EM resident:
Get dressed for work in our embroidered residency FIGS scrubs. Step out and enjoy the easy year-round sunny weather. Drive a short 5-15-minute low traffic commute along the Sarasota Bay. Park in one of the hospital’s covered garages. Grab a bite at one of the hospital cafes with our unlimited food allowance. Work a productive and busy ER shift. Grab some more food to go! Enjoy the short commute home overlooking the sunset on Sarasota Bay.
Although incredibly rewarding, residency is difficult and at times, stressful. Outside of those closest to you in your personal life, your residency family will be your most important support system. Our program fosters these relationships by assigning resident mentors and faculty mentors at the beginning of intern year. More importantly, we promote a professional yet informal culture, with many residents and faculty spending time together outside of the hospital.
Another key to maintaining a long career and avoiding burnout is to develop professional interests in addition to the basic components of EM. Our leadership is flexible with each residents’ extracurricular interests, assigning selective time each year in addition to a leadership/administration rotation during the PGYII year and a research month during the PGYIII year.
In a more pragmatic sense, our residents are also the beneficiaries of generous financial support. In addition to institutional support from FSU, SMH, and SEA, each resident receives outstanding benefits, a yearly bonus, and a yearly educational stipend of $2500.
We like to enjoy life. It helps our sanity when we smile and have fun.