Tina Wellness Moment (From Tina Runyan, PhD)

      Being Unapologetically and Authentically YOU!

Many of the faculty and some residents just returned from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) annual conference in Minneapolis. STFM is an exceptional conference with presentations by leading experts on family medicine education, provocative plenary presentations, and oodles of creativity and innovation. The most inspiring and expansive presentations for me were by people who deviate from the norm, think outside the box and challenge the status quo. I also attended several sessions about resident burnout, resiliency and wellness and most included data about how medical students are psychologically healthier than their age matched peers, but this difference not only shrinks but actually reverses by the end of residency.

Why? I suspect there are a lot of reasons, but it made me think about whether the qualities I found so inspiring in the experts at STFM might be the qualities we unintentionally squeeze out of residents. Residency training is appropriately about deepening your knowledge and developing competencies ... reliable, predictable, reproducible proficiency. Often, the implicit - and sometimes explicit messages - are that there is a "right" and a "wrong" way to do everything. Which is all very well intentioned by your faculty.

But in constantly trying to match your methods and style to your faculty, I wonder if we might also unintentionally disincentivize creativity and authenticity? And how much this contributes to resident burnout ... a dampening of self-trust and turning away from one's own authenticity to hit the mark. The constant evaluation and judgment constructs a feedback loop where the pursuit to be perceived as good enough diminishes the reliance on and expansion of internal wisdom.

One definition of education is the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction to develop knowledge and skills. That sounds about right. But the root word of education comes from the Latin verb 'educare' meaning, "to draw out what lies within." Hmmm ... You came into this profession with boundless energy, compassion, courage, and creativity. Residency is grueling and developing and demonstrating competency is absolutely necessary. But it is not sufficient. The practice of medicine is an art where creativity blossoms into innovation and improvement ... towards excellence.

So you might not feel free to fully expand your wings with reckless abandon during residency. Just remember, with your inimitable perspective and way of doing things, you are the only one who can be uniquely and perfectly YOU. That too is a competency worth measuring.
"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."
Albert Einstein


UMASS Worcester Family Medicine Residency | 119 Belmont Street - Jaquith 2 | Worcester | MA | 01605