The life of an intern — a doctor in the first year of post-medical-school training — includes plenty of hard work and stress. In February, interns at Christiana Care were treated to a special time-out to focus on their own health, wellness and work/life balance at an event called Winternfest.
“We want to help you thrive in your residency and have a productive, fulfilling career,” said Heather Farley, M.D., director of Provider Wellbeing.
At the event, young doctors explored mindfulness, gratitude and a variety of life skills.
Mary Williams, a registered dietitian, showed interns how to put together a healthy meal in 15 minutes or less. She demonstrated how to combine oats with a few simple ingredients that go in the refrigerator overnight to provide a healthy grab-and-go breakfast in the morning. She sautéed frozen grilled vegetables with boneless chicken strips for a quick, low-fat dinner.
“Make extras for leftovers,” she advised.
Mary Sweeney, LPCMH, a behavioral health consultant in Adult Medicine, led interns in breathing exercises that reduce stress and enhance awareness.
“We aren’t used to being alert and relaxed,” she said. “But the more you practice, the more you realize that alert and relaxed go together.”
Margaret Keenan, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and behavioral health faculty member for the Family Medicine Residency Program, led an exercise on narrative medicine. She invited the interns to distill an experience into a six-word story or memoir. Among their responses:
“My amazing peers keep me going.”
“Drugs are bad. Dead at 34.”
“Will I ever know it all?”
It’s a practice that many of the interns said they want to continue.
“We want to start posting six-words memoirs on the call-room wall,” said participant Beth Leopold, M.D.
Vanessa Downing, Ph.D, a psychologist with a dual appointment in the Center for Provider Wellbeing and the Center for Heart & Vascular Health, led a session on gratitude.
“We reflected on one person who was always there for us,” said participant Robert DeGrazia, M.D. “That would be my wife,” he said.
The event concluded with some time to share a meal, relax and play games.
Lisa Maxwell, M.D., associate chief learning officer, encouraged them to practice good self care and to reach out whenever they need help.
“We want to know how it’s going with you,” Dr. Maxwell said. “We want to remind you to take care of yourself.”