Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekly Whine: Wellness Group

During my first year of residency, they started up something called a Wellness Group. It was led by an attending psychiatrist who worked at our hospital who I'll call Dr. Freudella (because she was a woman). Basically, we all sat in a conference room for an hour with Dr. Freudella and discussed things that were bothering us. And got a good lunch.

Sounds great, right?

Except I hated Dr. Freudella. It started out with her yelling at me when I was an intern. And she didn't yell at me exactly. She yelled at me like a psychiatrist. It's hard to explain.

So we had our first wellness group and we each went around the room and talked about ourselves for a little bit. Most people said a sentence or two. Dr. Freudella basically told us her whole life story, and by the time she was done with that, the group was over.

We had one more meeting and that was it for wellness group for the year.

The next year, the wellness group started up again. Dr. Freudella showed up 30 minutes late to the meeting. Then we started discussing how best to hold the meeting in the future, and how to get the attendings to allow us to be available for the meeting and even hold our pagers.

At some point during the meeting, I started sighing. Loudly.

Dr. Freudella: "Fizzy, is there something wrong?"

Me: "No, I just think it's pointless to discuss this."

The reason I'm telling this story now is that yesterday, my five year old daughter told me she got in trouble in class for sighing loudly when someone else was talking. It made me realize how immature I was at that meeting. I mean, a five year old was supposed to know better than to act like that. I was a pretty immature 28 year old, I guess.

But I still maintain that Dr. Freudella was really annoying and the group was pointless. (And sure enough, there was never a meeting again.)


  1. as a 3rd year med student, several of us did our psych rotation in an inpatient ward where the staff spent more time and energy on each other than the patients. the chief resident wanted a paper on med student stress, so every friday afternoon, he would debrief us. but it was an easy rotation, and we were not stressed. finally, he stopped trying. end of meetings. end of paper. waste of time. got better things to do on friday afternoon.

  2. we had a wellness group my first year of med school. Half the class was supposed to go in the fall, the other half was supposed to go in the spring. I think the attending was doing some sort of research on whether or not it was helpful. We filled out a survey on stress at the beginning and we were supposed to do one at the end of the group.

    I was in the first class and we only had two sessions. One of them was about progressive relaxation and they gave us pizza. The other was about healthy eating and they gave us pizza. We then had to fill out a survey about whether or not we were less stressed now that we had been to wellness group. If I recall correctly, the first time they had asked us about stress was after our first day of med school (and seriously, who isn't stressed and overwhelmed then?) and the second time we filled out the survey was after we had just finished the first block, so everyone was feeling good that they had made it. The results showed that we were much less stressed so the obvious conclusion was that it was due to wellness group and to the extent of my knowledge, they've had it at that school ever since.

    I guess it's nice that they used the grant funding to cover the cost of pizza.

  3. I get you, but I suppose it was done with good intentions. South African medical professionals have some of the highest rates of alcoholism, depression and suicide profession-wise in the country, and I kind of wish someone would care that much about our doctors and medical students.

    We had a final year commit suicide the other day, actually.

    Then again, I don't know if it would work. I guess it probably wouldn't.

    @JessJess, perfect example of how even stats can be manipulated.

  4. Their good intentions make it worse, in my opinion. It means they recognize there's a problem, but don't care enough to do any more than half-ass a solution. Doing one group session in a year is pathetic, and certainly not enough to help anyone who is suicidal.

  5. We have a wellness meeting next week. It is from 6:30 to 8:30 at night. Besides that fact that I will probably not be able to leave service in time to get there by 6:30, it is another evening away from my family to attend a work related event when I am already on call three days next week. And I don't think they are even feeding us. Needless to say, I am not going.

  6. When I was a med student we did not have wellness groups. No one in our med school gave a fart in a high wind whether we were well, overstressed or dead as long as our scut work got done. If we had particularly obnoxious residents or attendings we would imagine torturing them for stress relief. It worked... :)