At the University of Washington, resident and fellow wellness is an institutional priority. Recognizing that post-graduate training is a stressful endeavor that can sometimes lead to depression, anxiety and burnout, we created the GME Wellness Service to help trainees and their significant others/spouses cope with common stressors of training—including long hours, a never-ending patient load, time away from family, relationship/marital issues, etc.
While the core service is providing trainees with access to counseling services, our mission is to support work-life balance and overall wellness. We offer fun events on evenings and weekends, as well as seminars and workshops within departments and programs. Activities include tours of chocolate and beer factories, evening cooking events, museum tours, tickets to sporting events, family-friendly Halloween parties, singles-focused outings, parenting (and pre-parenting) workshops, art walks at our primary training hospitals, financial planning workshops, etc.
Completely confidential support and counseling services are available, free of charge through the GME Office of the School of Medicine. We offer individual counseling to trainees and to their significant others/spouses, and we also provide couples' counseling. For more information, please view our brochure (PDF) below.
Two experienced licensed counselors are available to assist trainees and their significant others/spouses in developing strategies to cope with the stress of residency or fellowship. Services are offered four days per week, including evenings. There is absolutely no access to counseling records by faculty, staff, or anyone else without your written consent. Common reasons trainees and their significant others/spouses seek counseling support include:
- Strained relationships or love loss
- Career doubts
- Job stress
- Adverse events
Psychiatric Consultation - The GME Wellness Service can refer you to our consulting psychiatrist for a free, confidential assessment and medication management. Appointments with this community-based psychiatrist, who is not part of UW Medicine, are generally available within 48 hours of referral by the GME Wellness Service.
Learning Specialist - To assist those who may be struggling with test taking, time management and other academic challenges, our learning specialist is available for consultation.
Community Providers - Referral services include recommendations for primary care providers, dentists, and community-based mental health providers. The GME Wellness Service also works closely with the Washington Physicians Health Program (WPHP) in cases of impairment or substance abuse.
Feedback on the Counseling Service:
"In a time of intense emotional turmoil it was a life saver for me to have a professional advisor I could talk to immediately about my relationship problem. As residents we are lucky to have access to such high quality practitioners. They helped me make sense of what I was going through and provided me with guidance on how to handle it while continuing my residency training."
"...it's totally anonymous - even the location is where you would not bump into people..."
"It has been so comforting to journey to the hospital basement and sip on hot tea, smell the flowery aroma, and reflect on what happened during the week, what it means, how I feel about it, and what I can do to take control of my own situation."
Other Wellness Services
Workshops: At the request of any GME program, the Wellness Service develops workshops to assist residents and fellows with issues including:
- Finding Balance in a Medical Life
- The Dark Side (exploring the emotions of caring for sick and dying patients)
- When Doctors Make Mistakes
- What to Say When You Don't Know What to Say (the art of writing a condolence note)
- Giving Bad News
- Burnout & Fatigue
- The Art of Observation (using works of art to hone observational skills)
- SOS Signals: Recognizing & Responding to Residents in Distress
- Interpersonal Violence Among Residents & Fellows
- What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self
Wellness Corner (WC): The GME Wellness Service writes a weekly electronic newsletter for the GME community. The WC includes information on fun and free/low cost activities around Puget Sound, as well as GME events and activities. Knowing that residents and fellows are too busy to keep up with local happenings and might miss out on the fun, we do the research for you and put it together in the WC. Topics include sports, theater, food, music, nature, festivals, child and family-friendly activities, day trips, and more!
GME Parents listserv: In recognition of the growing number of trainees who are balancing parenting with their training program responsibilities, we have created a forum for sharing information and resources. You can join the listserv here or by contacting the GME Office.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): The GME Wellness Service is proud to support a deeply-discounted, Sunday evening, 8-week seminar series on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. MBSR has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression and stress and increase empathy by enhancing the doctor–patient relationship. The MBSR workshop is available to trainees and their significant others/spouses.
Annual PEEPS Contest: The Wellness Service holds an annual Spring contest inviting the GME community to use marshmallow Peeps to create a diorama depicting the medical work environment, a recent news event, popular movie, or other cultural phenomenon. Winners are treated to a catered PEEPSA (pizza) party.
Lending Library: Mindy and Kristi continually purchase new books, CDs and other useful materials available for loan to residents and fellows. Topics include relaxing into restful sleep, couples communication, time management, getting over the loss of a relationship, perfectionism, mindfulness, etc.
Wellness Resources: The GME Wellness Service keeps track of other UW and outside organization resources within the community that provide wellness services to trainees and their significant others/spouses. These services include but are not limited to: couples counseling and psychiatric, substance abuse, and psychological counseling. The counseling service also has available a list of reading resources.
Mindy Stern, MSW, LICSW
Director, Resident and Fellow Wellness
Kristina Schellie, MSW, LICSW
Assistant Director, Resident and Fellow Wellness