There are data that strong relationships and lifelong self-care habits can yield benefits much later in life. MCW faculty members and the Kern Institute are building a portfolio of curricular and extracurricular opportunities that encourage resilience and insight including the REACH curriculum, the KINETIC3 Teaching Academy, MCW Common Read, and a variety of transformational initiatives (see a partial list at the end of this article.) The challenge is to make these types of offerings available, appealing, and effective. Baking caring and self-care into the institutional culture and the curriculum creates opportunities for both transformation and scholarship.
But, let’s get real. Finding time for reflection, creativity, and long-range personal planning is difficult and, frankly, of low priority for busy students, residents, and faculty. Institutions can readily measure clinic slots, RVUs, grant funding, and margins, but we don’t (yet) have metrics that measure sustained empathy, strengthened character, and successful prevention of burnout. If we cannot demonstrate that these habits can be nurtured, or if they aren’t seen as valuable, our interventions will have little impact and won’t be sustained.
“Think of each day as a gold coin that you are required to trade for something. You’ll never get that coin back, so whatever you trade it for had better be worth it. You also don’t know how many coins you have left to trade, and you don’t know what will happen when your bag is empty.”
- Healer’s Art Course. Julie Owen, MD and Art Derse, MD run this M1 elective that helps students explore their connections, tough issues such as loss and grief, their motivation for service, and reflect on their goals.
- REACH (Recognize, Empathize, Allow, Care, Hold Each Other Up) Curriculum. Working with the Kern Institute, Cassie Ferguson, MD designed REACH. She, Joanne Bernstein, MD, and Theresa Maatman, MD are the program leaders. REACH provides a well-being thread of lectures and small-group activities through the M1 and M2 curriculum where students explore mindfulness, meditation, spirituality, self-compassion, “imposter syndrome,” belonging vs fitting in, stress, anxiety, empathy vs. compassion, setting boundaries, gratitude, relationships, communication, sympathetic joy, active constructive responding, and compassionate listening.
- KINETIC3 Teaching Academy. The Kern Institute offers this curriculum that seeks – in addition to fostering teaching skills and building a community of educators – to promote faculty and student well-being.
- MCW Common Read. The program coordinates a campus-wide book selection and study. This year’s book is How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.
- MCW MedMoth. This is a live storytelling event where MCW students and faculty are invited to share first-hand narratives of their medical journeys.
- MCW Art Club. Developed by Teresa Patitucci, PhD, this Facebook page shares the talents of MCW family members. See the article in the July 24, 2020 Transformational Times.
- MCW Moving Pens. Offered by the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, this facilitated group for writers of all skill levels and genres meets twice-per-month in partnership with Red Oak Writing.
- MCW Physicians for the Arts - Facebook page link here
- Auscult – MCW’s literary journal. Site link here
- Chordae Harmonae – MCW medical student acapella group. YouTube link here
- MCW Orchestra – Facebook page link here