GW Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Puts Emphasis on Wellness
There are times when doctors are so focused on their patients, they forget to take proper care of their own health. However, there are skills they can learn early on to keep burnout at bay — and that’s the goal of the George Washington University’s (GW) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Wellness Week.
This year marked the department’s third annual event, part of a national program started by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to decrease risk of burnout. While the ACOG program focuses on resident wellness, GW OB-GYN wanted it to include everyone in the department who had interest in participating, said Sarah Cigna, MD ’14, RESD 18, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS).
“Burnout is a real and crippling part of people’s jobs when they don’t take care of themselves,” she noted. “More than ever, it’s really important for us to create a way for people to take care of themselves each day because pushing through on survival mode on a daily basis is not a healthy way of life.”
During the week, events included an department-wide steps competition to motivate participants to get moving; a meditation and spa day, featuring morning guided meditation, massages, and pedicures; and a clothing drive as a way to give back to others.
While ACOG sets a theme for each day, such as “active” or “spiritual,” each program chose their own activities that fit within the themes.
“Learning new skills early on in our career in a supportive setting with our co-residents is really important, instead of trying to figure it out 30 years down the road when we’re already dealing with burnout,” said Kourtney Grant, a resident in the SMHS Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
As for wellness tips anyone can do on their own, Grant says guided meditations are a great option, and there are many smartphone apps that can help people learn about the activity. “These tools are readily available and free. They can offer ways for people to practice wellness easily,” she said.
She added that GW’s OB-GYN program sends out monthly wellness emails for residents and staff with tips such as mindful eating — sitting down with a friend, loved one, or even alone, and enjoying a meal without the distraction of a phone or the TV.
Find things that bring you the most joy, Cigna said.
“If you’re doing a meditation because you begrudgingly feel you should do it, that’s not going to make you well, if anything it’s going to make you more stressed,” she said. “There are many different ways you can find joy through wellness.”
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Wellness Week was funded through the Ob/Gyn Resident Education Fund, which is supported by the generosity of our alumni and friends who support resident education.