College implements Well-Being Index targeting precision wellness in residents, fellows
The short questionnaire discusses topics including work-life balance, relationships, fatigue and more
Sept. 27, 2022 — With demanding early-career work schedules, medical residents and fellows often feel the strain of stress.
“It’s not always easy to spend time with our loved ones and many of us don’t always have time to prioritize taking care of ourselves,” said psychiatry resident Christina Bulleit, D.O.
By completing the Well-Being Index questionnaire, now available through a project under the people pillar of the UF College of Medicine strategic plan, residents and fellows can better understand stressors in their lives and gain access to resources to help manage their mental health.
The short, confidential web-based questionnaire, developed specifically for health care professionals and based on research from the Mayo Clinic, will allow residency and fellowship programs across the college to gather anonymized data that can be used to address specific areas of concern regarding the well-being of their trainees. This approach promotes precision wellness, which involves a comprehensive account of the biological, lifestyle and environmental factors that impact a person’s health and well-being. As a result, the college will be better able to identify specific areas to focus housestaff well-being improvement efforts, said project champion Lisa Merlo, Ph.D., M.P.E., an associate professor of psychiatry and director of wellness programs for the College of Medicine.
The Well-Being Index is now available for residents and fellows to complete. Merlo said residents and fellows serve as a great group of early adopters of the survey due to their dynamic lifestyles.
“Residency happens when there are a lot of developmental milestones for adults,” Merlo said. “Many are moving far away from family for the first time, getting married, having children, beginning to pay back loans or buying a home, all while starting their careers. Sometimes, when we’re in the midst of a very busy life, we lose perspective on how we’re actually doing. And oftentimes, health care professionals in particular feel like they just have to push through, or they downplay their symptoms or their level of distress. The Well-Being Index is a good, objective way of getting feedback on how residents and fellows are doing, which they can track over time to see changes at different stages of their training or careers.”
The Well-Being Index takes about a minute to sign up for and another minute to complete. Residents and fellows who began their training in July had the opportunity to complete the measure during orientation as a baseline assessment of how they felt at the beginning of their programs. Residents and fellows will receive a link to the Well-Being Index in their UF email inbox and can find posters with QR codes that link to the survey page in the resident lounges and workrooms on campus.
The questions tackle subjects relating to work-life balance, anxiety, relationships, fatigue, and more. Upon completion of the survey, participants will receive a tailored list of local and national resources to address physical, emotional and financial concerns, as well as stress, fatigue and professional development.
Bulleit said she was excited to assist Merlo in strategizing the best ways to increase participation. She said it’s a great tool that creates a direct line between program directors and residents and fellows, especially via an open-ended response section at the end of the survey.
“It can be difficult to get people on board with taking a survey like this because we hear a lot about ‘wellness,’” Bulleit said. “But this survey creates an opportunity for actual changes to take place.”
Residency program directors and Merlo will review the anonymous data to look for patterns and similarities in the types of stress trainees are experiencing, which will be used to guide strategies from the departments.
“By reviewing the data, we can start addressing issues as we identify them and improve the culture here each year as we target new areas of focus,” Merlo said. “And we can tweak different aspects of the programming in the environment to best meet the educational and professional development needs of our residents and fellows.”
At least five responses per program must be completed before directors can access the data, to protect participant anonymity, so participation is the best way for trainees to help their programs improve for their own benefit and that of their peers, Merlo said.
Soon, the Well-Being Index will be expanded across the college to include surveys for physician faculty, and eventually to students and staff.
“It has a lot of potential benefits for individuals and for the college as a whole,” Merlo said.