VBS 2023: Wellness Session

Luis Acaba-Berrocal MD
Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, UIC
Chicago, IL

Session 13: Wellness Family Feud Game Show “Now, I See the Funny Side. Now, I’m Always Smiling!”

Moderator: Nicholas Farber, MD

Team 1: Jessica Randolph, MD and Carlos A. Medina, MD

Team 2: David Eichenbaum, MD and Kristen Nwanyanwu, MD, MBA, MHS

The much-anticipated Saturday afternoon Wellness section: Wellness Family Feud Game Show “Now, I See the Funny Side. Now, I’m Always Smiling!” delivered great insight and outstanding advice. The session was moderated by Dr. Nicholas Farber dressed as Ted Lasso and followed a Family Feud type style and included two teams composed of Drs Jessica Randolph and Carlos A. Medina (Team 1), and Drs David Eichenbaum and Kristen Nwanyanwu (Team 2). The session focused on trainee responses to key topics such as exercise, financial worries, job related stressors, and depression.

The session kicked off with a discussion on the biggest barriers to exercise with trainees reporting lack of time and low energy levels as the most common reasons. Dr. Medina gave the advice to make exercising a social event. He described how he would go on weekend bike rides with fellow retina colleagues and then they would have breakfast together. Dr Nwanyanwu mentioned that she works out in the morning, as mornings tend to be less busy than afternoons for her. The session continued with questions of how trainees felt following long OR days, and which areas of their bodies hurt the most at the end of their day. Trainees most commonly reported feeling tired and described the back as the area that hurt the most for them. Dr. Randolph mentioned that she prioritizes stretching the neck and hamstrings in between OR cases, while Dr. Medina takes his time at the beginning of cases to make sure he is in an ergonomically optimal sitting position to limit stiffness and pain following cases. The discussion moved to trainees’ biggest financial worries, with supporting a family, paying of loans, and potential limited future earnings being the most common answers. Dr. Medina provided a top tip of continuing to live like a resident for the first 4 years of practice, while Dr. Nwanyanwu described the importance of looking at the financial data and making a budget.

The session moved to the highly pertinent discussion on self-reported happiness. The next question asked trainees how often they felt depressed, with 35% reporting at least twice a month or more. Dr. Farber mentioned the importance of talking about depression and how physicians are more likely to commit suicide than the general population. He provided confidential resources for anyone who might need help such as the Physician Support Line: 1 (888) 409-0141 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (888) 272-TALK (8255). Dr. Eichenbaum stated that it is imperative to support colleagues who are struggling or depressed and not belittle them, while Dr. Randolph pointed out that we should help our trainees not focus too much on their mistakes or bad outcomes. She accomplishes this by focusing on the good parts of those cases instead. Related to that discussion, Dr. Farber closed the incredibly helpful session with one of Ted Lasso’s favorite quotes: “Be curious, not judgmental”.