Wellness Designed from the Ground Up

My name is Zach Testo and I am the Leadership in Wellness Fellowship Director at UMass Chan Medical School - Baystate. I did my residency as well as an Ultrasound Fellowship here at Baystate and I have made Western Mass my home.

From my days as "The Cuddly Chief Resident" I have made wellness a priority in my personal and professional life. As that interest and passion began to grow into my concern for my colleagues as I saw more and more of the hardships that we all endure in health care.

Wellness at Baystate has been a priority since before I started my years here as a resident in an informal way. Protecting residents from duty hours both on and off service, protected time and a month-long orientation period for interns designed to create and solidify bonds that can last a lifetime were initiatives that set Baystate apart from day one.

"Our PD @BaystateEM says it's their job to teach us to be EM doctors. For us to be good learners/doctors we need to be fed, rested and happy. Simple really."

Sam Broder, Baystate Franklin Attending and Baystate Alumnus

Wellness at Baystate

There is no better embodiment of this ideal than our three day resident retreat where all three classes can enjoy time together and away from work to foster friendships and to externalizations the stress of the department. This spirit has grown into other efforts to include more burnout prevention in the curriculum, including Wellness and Resilience Club.

At this monthly get together, at an attending's house we discuss building resilience and professional excellence and externalizing and highlighting serious threats to wellness like substance abuse, interpersonal conflict, and PTSD. The focus on behavioral health outreach is longitudinal throughout residency and beyond. Our institution stresses the importance of mental health and has multiple resources for all employees.

Residency is tough and Baystate is no different. We expect our residents to go through all the growing pains and difficulties that come with learning to protect the lives of patients on a daily basis. But this does not mean that the pressures, defeats and hardships should be ignored nor should they be suffered alone. At Baystate we try to offer support where available, to educate about burnout and to build a resilient and mature group of doctors who will be well equipped to take care of patients and themselves after graduation.

The Leadership in Wellness Fellowship

We are excited to be one of the first Wellness Fellowships in the country. It is a one year fellowship for EM graduated physicians. With an increasing awareness of physician “wellness and resiliency” and the epidemic of “burnout” comes the need for physician leadership specific to these areas of interest. Many health systems are creating the position of Chief Wellness Officer (CWO) to spearhead initiatives related to physician wellness. The Baystate EM Leadership in Wellness Fellowship seeks to provide education and preparation to an Emergency Medicine graduate to be a wellness champion.

While the concept of wellness and the term burnout have become catch-all phrases to encompass anything that makes the job of physician hard or annoying, this fellowship is designed to focus on the relationship between faculty and administration. All current literature points out the need for a systemic and cultural change which starts at the administrative level. While the tenants of physician wellness like self care and mindfulness are the core content, this fellowship seeks to go deeper into the understanding of the stressors of the profession and to foster an environment that is adaptive and creative in the way we come up with institutional solutions.

Our current fellow is involved with projects such as Resident Coaching, virtual and in-person didactics, intervention based research and wellness outreach. The fellow also serves on department as well as hospital-wide committees devoted to improving staff wellness.

If you are interested in the fellowship or want to learn more, please feel free to contact Zachary.Testo@baystatehealth.org