Update on the Wellness Task Force

Update on the Wellness Task Force

Earlier this week the Dean’s Task Force on the Learning Environment met so that each of the three working groups could provide an update on progress they’ve made to date. We want to acknowledge the enormous investment of time and energy that all members of these groups have made in tackling this important initiative.

The following is a synopsis of what was shared and plans moving forward.

Mental Health Access

This working group is:

  1. Taking an inventory of existing services across the health system that are available to students, residents, and post docs, and identifying gaps in care
  2. Reviewing differences in insurance coverage among the groups that are served
  3. Identifying best practices at about 15 medical schools in NYC and around the country—focusing mostly on medical schools that are either not part of a university or are located far from a university campus

The inventory of existing services is being collected from providers and from trainees in order to provide a well-rounded perspective on what’s available and how it is perceived. Once all of this data is compiled the group will put together a proposal on enhancing and expanding care, as well as considering what role interventions like reflection or process groups can play in the overall plan.

Well-Being and Resilience

This group initially spent time refining the scope of what well-being should include, as well as identifying themes that are either common across all trainee groups (for example, social isolation, financial pressures, childcare/housing family leave, stress from competition, stress from inadequate career development opportunities) and unique to each group (too much evaluation among medical students, no evaluation or feedback among post docs).

The group has begun to address possible solutions, including a central office that oversees well-being; resilience and mindfulness training; retreats for community-building; a space for supporting trainees who exercise during the day; support and formal recognition for faculty who are involved in supporting well-being.

Culture change

This group identified three common themes that cut across all constituent groups:

  • Training and evaluation
  • Mentoring and relationships
  • General resources (housing, space, etc.)

The members of the group broke up into the four constituencies (medical students, graduate students, house staff, post docs) so that each theme could be addressed through the lens of the different populations of trainees.

At this juncture the working group has extensively catalogued challenges and barriers, and is now poised to begin working on proposed solutions.

It was gratifying to see that there was a healthy amount of overlap in this discovery phase, both in terms of gaps and solutions. Each working group will use the next six weeks to put together a proposal that will then be reviewed by the Task Force near the end of December.

The Task Force will create a final proposal that will include solutions, resources required and a plan for implementation that will be shared with the community of students and trainees, and presented to the Dean for approval.

We hope to have this final draft completed by mid-January.

David Muller, MD, FACP
Dean for Medical Education
Marietta and Charles C. Morchand Chair
Department of Medical Education
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Update on the Wellness Task Force

Wellness Task Force in Full Effect

On Friday, October 7, we held the first meeting of the Dean’s Task Force on the Learning Environment: Enhancing Well-Being and Changing Culture.

The task force will address three important topics: mental health, well-being, and academic culture change at the Icahn School of Medicine.

Dean Charney charged the group, after which we laid out the plan for the next few months. Attached is the agenda from the first meeting, our timeline and the membership roster of the Task Force.

Members of the task force have been divided into three working groups, each of which will tackle one of the three focus areas listed above. Each group has student representatives from all degree granting programs, faculty, administrators, house staff and post docs. The working groups will be recruiting additional members from each of these constituencies, and will also be reaching out to you for suggestions and ideas.

The working groups will be meeting frequently for the next several months and are expected to develop a proposal that will then be reviewed by the task force in late December. The final proposal will be shared with all of you as well as Dean Charney in early January. Once the proposal has been submitted, a subgroup of the task force will retain a permanent oversight function, meeting quarterly to keep an eye on proposal implementation and progress.

The task force will be meeting again in mid-November to get a progress report from each working group, and we will send you an update at that time.

We want to thank all the members of the task force and the working groups for their willingness to devote considerable time and energy to this very important initiative.

David Muller, MD, FACP
Dean for Medical Education
Marietta and Charles C. Morchand Chair
Department of Medical Education
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Introducing a Task Force on Wellness

Introducing a Task Force on Wellness

This past year, our community has experienced a number of tragedies that have led us to reflect on the adequacy of well-being resources and mental health support for our trainees. We are forming a Dean’s Task Force to address these issues and have attached the Task Force Charter.

The groups that will be represented on this Task Force include:

  • Medical School Students
  • Graduate School Students
  • Postdoctoral Fellows
  • House staff
  • Department of Psychiatry
  • Department of Social Work Services
  • Medical School, Graduate School, and GME Leadership
  • The Center for Multi-Cultural and Community Affairs/Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Members of the Task Force have already been contacted and we plan to schedule our first meeting in the coming weeks.

After one or two initial meetings of the Task Force, we expect to break up into smaller working groups and tackle three major areas of interest: access to mental health resources, well-being resources (including coping and resilience tools), and affecting change in the culture of academic achievement and performance. Each working group will allow a larger number of trainees to participate in this process.

Once the working groups have completed their work, the Task Force will come together to review their conclusions and turn them into one comprehensive proposal for the Dean’s office by the late fall, with the hope of beginning to implement interventions in early 2017.

We cannot overstate the importance of this undertaking. We have a unique opportunity to affect major change in medical education and set a standard for other schools to follow.

Thank you for your willingness to support this process.

Dennis S. Charney, MD
Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
President for Academic Affairs, Mount Sinai Health System

David Muller, MD, FACP
Marietta and Charles C. Morchand Chair in Medical Education
Dean of Medical Education
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Marta Filizola, PhD
Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Professor, Department of Pharmacological Sciences
Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

I. Michael Leitman, MD, FACS
Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education
ACGME Designated Institutional Official
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Department of Medical Education
Professor of Surgery and Medical Education