Integrating a Grassroots Well-Being Curriculum into a Radiation Oncology Residency Program

Kimberly R. Gergelis, Uma S. Anand, Johanna S. Rian, Kristofer W. Roberts, Pamela J. Quinones, Kenneth R. Olivier, Kimberly S. Corbin, Cynthia M. Stonnington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The burnout rate among US radiation oncology residents was 33% in 2016. To our knowledge there are no published interventions addressing burnout among radiation oncology residents. We describe the implementation of a well-being curriculum, cocreated by a psychologist, a medical humanities professional, and radiation oncology attending and resident physicians. Methods and Materials: Radiation oncology residents at our institution were surveyed to determine themes that induced burnout. A curriculum was developed, with monthly small group sessions focused on 1 identified topic. Sessions alternated between psychological tool-focused approaches and humanities exercises. These were led by a psychologist or medical humanities professional. Residents were given protected time to attend sessions during business hours. Participation was optional. Participants were assigned a random identifier, and the Stanford Professional Fulfillment Index (PFI) was assessed at baseline and 3-month intervals. PFI trends were analyzed after 1 year. At the end of the year, a focus group was held to evaluate work satisfaction and self-reported interactions with patients and coworkers. This information was used to improve the curriculum. Results: All 12 residents in the radiation oncology program participated in the curriculum. There was an equal number of residents of postgraduate years 2 through 5. Six of the participants were female. Of the participants, 11 completed the PFI. At baseline, 80% of residents met criteria for burnout. This decreased to 67%, 50%, and 33% at 3, 6, and 9 months, respectively. The proportion of residents meeting criteria for very good professional fulfillment was 30%, 56%, 38%, and 22% at baseline and 3, 6, and 9 months, respectively. On average, 9 of 12 residents attended each session. Conclusions: Our experience demonstrates the feasibility of collaborating with residents in the development of a well-being curriculum to cater programming to their needs, which we believe led to excellent engagement and attendance at each session.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100837
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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