by Monee Amin, MD

As each academic year progresses, residents can sometimes fall victim to "burnout" that results from stressful work environments and difficulty finding adequate work-life balance. This phenomenon of burnout is one that PGY-2 and future CMR Nicholas Hoppmann decided to tackle head-on. During his intern year, Nicholas discussed the rigors of residency training with his peers and then researched how other residency programs were handling the problem. The result was creation of a UAB Resident Wellness Committee, which aims to assist with "the emotional exhaustion" of residency, Hoppmann says.

Instead of merely discussing the preventative strategies against work fatigue, the committee has two separate components intended to thwart burnout amongst our residents. The first is a noon conference series that highlights positive experiences inside the hospital. Speakers at this series have included Chairman of the Department Dr. Seth Landefeld and Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program Director Dr. Lisa Willett. Both speakers conveyed messages of optimism and reminded residents of the impact physicians have on the lives of their patients. A third speaker, Dr. Stephan Kertesz, reiterated a talk on everyday heroes that he originally delivered during the TedX Salon series on care of the underserved last fall. In the future, there are plans to have residents present at these conferences as well.

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In addition to conferences, the committee organizes events outside of the hospital to promote a work-life balance, which is key in circumventing several features of burnout. Projects thus far have included work at the Miracle League as well as turning over a community garden for the M-Power indigent care clinic in Birmingham. The committee hopes to have at least four activities each year, with future projects slotted to include work with Habitat for Humanity and others.

While the initial steps in developing this committee have been promising, Hoppman believes there is still room for growth. "I think the committee is still finding its niche, and I hope it will have a positive impact on residents at UAB for years to come."

The UAB Resident Wellness Committee welcomes any alumni ideas or support for community projects and the Patient Experiences Conference Series.