John A. Kuipers III, DO
Six Strategies to Promote Radiology Resident Wellness
Radiology residency is a challenging and demanding time for residents. Long hours, high pressure and intense workloads take a toll on our physical and mental health. To ensure residents are providing the highest quality patient care, it’s important for radiology programs to prioritize resident wellness. As a third-year resident currently preparing for the CORE exam, I would like to stress the importance of radiology resident wellness and strategies for promoting it.
Radiology residents are often tasked with interpreting complex medical images and making critical decisions that can have a significant impact on patient outcomes. The demands of the job can be overwhelming with high levels of stress, anxiety and burnout.
When residents aren’t adequately supported, their mental and physical health can suffer, leading to potential impacts on their ability to provide quality patient care. In addition, residents who experience burnout may be more likely to leave the field of radiology, which can have a long-term impact on the growing demand for radiologists in healthcare.
To promote radiology resident wellness, programs should take a holistic approach that addresses both the physical and mental health of residents. Here are six strategies that programs can use to promote wellness:
- Create a supportive work environment.
Radiology programs should strive to create a supportive work environment that promotes work-life balance and encourages open communication. Residents should feel comfortable seeking support from their peers and supervisors when they are struggling.
- Prioritize resident education.
Residents should have access to educational resources that help them develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Programs should provide opportunities for residents to attend conferences, workshops and other educational events to enhance their learning. Dedicated time should also be provided to third-year residents preparing for CORE board examinations. Specifically, my program provides a dedicated seven weeks to study for the boards in the spring, as well as an additional week if we choose to purchase a CORE review course.
- Provide mental health support.
Radiology programs should prioritize mental health support for residents. This can include access to counseling services, mental health resources and support groups.
- Encourage physical activity.
Physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health. Programs can encourage residents to engage in physical activity by offering fitness classes, gym memberships or other wellness initiatives.
- Foster a sense of community.
Radiology programs should foster a sense of community among residents. This can be achieved by organizing social events, team-building activities and other opportunities for residents to connect with each other. Our program has a dedicated “wellness fund” to supplement funding for various events.
- Promote self-care.
Finally, radiology programs should promote self-care among residents. This includes encouraging residents to take breaks when needed, providing healthy food options and promoting mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
Radiology residency can be a challenging time. But programs that prioritize wellness can help residents provide the best possible patient care — while also thriving both personally and professionally — by creating a supportive work environment, prioritizing education, providing mental health support, encouraging physical activity, fostering a sense of community and promoting self-care.