Physician Wellness

Discovery Resource # ST-29
Resource Topic: Physician Wellness
Planning Tools: Survival Tool
Career Phase: Discover
Description: Preventative care for the physician’s psyche
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The recognition of burnout and its potential to wreak havoc on medical students, residents and physicians has created a unique moment in the realm of medical education and the medical community itself. We now find ourselves tasked with the challenge of how to heal ourselves. Creating an effective physician wellness program not only involves knowing what resources to provide to those in need, it is also imperative to be able to identify what it means to be well.
This tool will give guidance and information on how to develop physician wellness programming as a measure of “preventative care” to delay the onset of this disease; it will also review how and when to use “treatment strategies” for those physicians already showing symptoms of burnout. This chapter provides resources for medical students, residents, and physicians to define what it means to be well for them, assess their level of stress, identify resources for stress reduction and self-resiliency, and develop their own personal “toolkit” to carry through their medical career.
  • Define work-life balance.
  • Understand how to identify your roles as a new physician.
  • Develop effective strategies for setting boundaries without lingering guilt.
  • Learn the Eisenhower Matrix and how to apply it effectively.
  • Learn how to create “pockets of time” in your workday to increase efficiency and decrease “pajama time” working at home.
  • Develop tools to maximize your physical and mental health.
  • Improve your interpersonal skills to strengthen personal and professional relationships.
  • Manage the mental strain and powerful emotions associated with the role of physician.
  • Find your “why” and rediscover the joy of medicine by creating structure, building resilience, and finding purpose as a physician and as a person who is whole.
Author: Meagan W. Vermeulen, MD, FAAFP
Meagan W. Vermeulen, MD, FAAFP
Associate Program Director, Family Medicine Residency Program, Rowan University School of Medicine

Meagan Vermeulen has practiced family medicine for 20 years and is now the Associate Program Director of the Rowan University SOM Family Medicine Residency Program in Stratford, NJ. In her leadership role, she has pioneered the Family Medicine Resident Wellness Initiative, a full spectrum curriculum embedded in the residency program didactic to teach residents the skills of self-assessment, effective interpersonal communication, financial literacy, and self-care.

Dr. Vermeulen’s academic research focuses on resident wellness, including a recent study on rates of burnout among allopathic and osteopathic medical residents in the state of New Jersey. In addition to her research, she also serves as a mentor for the AAFP Emerging Leader Institute: Family Medicine Leads program. As a mentor, she supported a young physician in the creation of, a truly innovative source for resident and medical student financial literacy

Dr. Vermeulen truly believes that the tenets of wellness include self-awareness, effective communication, self-care, mentorship, and advocacy for those looking to grow and move forward in their career.