Wellness Week Returns and Succeeds for Residents

By Ben Boulden

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of Wellness Week 2020 for residents in the UAMS Graduate Medical Education (GME) program, and it put already hard-working residents under additional stress. The first wellness week in 2019 took place with in-person events.

Brenda Burks, College of Medicine GME education manager, said the Resident Council was deeply involved in the planning for this year’s wellness week, getting the word out to residents and making it a success. Dozens of residents from different clinical programs participated. What was GME Wellness Week in 2019 became the Resident Council Wellness week, running May 24-28.

“The week is meant to help with their general wellness because the residents can get pretty burned out,” Burks said. “Each day focused on a different domain of wellness – financial and physical, for example. It’s meant to get them thinking about self-care and things they could be doing to help themselves.”

Monday was dedicated to financial well-being, Tuesday to emotional well-being, Wednesday to physical well-being, Thursday to social well-being and Friday to community well-being.

Jason Mizell, M.D., led the financial wellness virtual presentation and discussion. On Friday, Puru Thapa, M.D., MPH, gave a Zoom lecture on meditation. Socially distanced, but in-person, pet therapy was available on Tuesday as was a yoga session on Wednesday. Friday also included a food drive for the UAMS Stocked & Reddie food pantry.

Boxed lunches for 75 were laid out each day in the residents’ call room with food from Chick-fil-A, Taziki’s, Boulevard Bread Company, Community Bakery and Jimmy’s Serious Sandwiches.

All week long, there was a virtual scavenger hunt competition using the Goose Chase app. Residents earned points for posting photos and participating in wellness events. Winners were awarded VISA gift cards.

In addition to the Resident Council, Molly Gathright, M.D., a psychiatrist and associate dean for GME, played a vital role in the success of the week, and Zachary Tilley, M.D., also donated a lot of time and effort to it, Burks said. Tilly is chief resident and a clinical instructor in the Department of Internal Medicine.

“Our residents at UAMS work tremendously hard,” Tilley said. “Each day of the Resident Council Wellness Week was meant to promote a difference aspect of resident wellness while also showing them how much they are appreciated. I was happy to work with the College of Medicine’s office of Graduate Medical Education because they truly care about our residents’ well-being. I look forward to what the Resident Council and GME office have planned in the future.”