Designing healthy doctors

by Christina on December 18, 2012

Love it.


“We walked away from our immersive experiences with a surprising discovery—Maslow’s pyramid of needs was oddly inverted for these residents. While most had a profound sense of meaning in their lives, it was their bottom-of-the-pyramid needs—healthy food, staying hydrated, having time to do little life errands—that went unaddressed.
But here was the challenge. These residents wanted to be pushed to their limit because they believed it was helping them pursue their calling. They know health is important, but not if it takes away from the intense learning experience they signed up for. Taking a two-hour yoga lunch break? Not going to happen. Wellness would only work if these residents believed the solutions we generated wouldn’t get in the way of their intense efforts to become the excellent physicians they wish to be.
So that’s exactly what we set out to do. If residents couldn’t find time to make it to the cafeteria, we’d bring the cafeteria to them—stocking the resident-only workspaces with healthy, high-energy food they could just grab and take. Plumbing that workspace with a water line and giving every resident a water bottle to make staying hydrated a little easier was another no-brainer.
Other proposed interventions focus on helping residents with little life chores, letting them spend more of their precious downtime connecting with family or simply just getting a little more sleep. In-hospital dry cleaning and package delivery, dental and physical appointments that fit into residents’ crazy schedules, and vouchers for a house-cleaning service are all experiments we are exploring.
As these basic needs get addressed, we can move on to some of our other interventions focusing on emotional support. But for now, we simply hope to help these idealistic doctors better attend to their basic needs, so they can better attend to those of others. And we hope what we learn at Johns Hopkins can contribute to an informed conversation about the importance of physician wellness and the ways designing small changes can add up to meaningful social impact.”

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