The heart of resident wellness at Columbia is found in community. From the pod system to weekly happy hours, the program is designed to bring wonderful people together organically. As a result, a helping hand or ready ear is always close. This is cemented by leadership who understands the value of our culture and invests in it by protecting time for us to come together.
Josh Earl, PGY-3
Residency can be challenging for a number of reasons, ranging from its time-intensive nature to the emotional burden of caring for incredibly ill patients. While resident-to-resident support and a strong intra-program camaraderie are arguably the best means of promoting wellness at work, there also need to be formal mechanisms to help residents process and cope with stressful and difficult parts of our job and have a voice and agency in decision-making
Over the years, we have developed a robust catalog of programs aimed at ensuring resident well-being. We also have a host of opportunities for feedback and transparency in decision in both large group and smaller group settings. Click on each arrow to learn more.
Completely peer-led, our Gold Lunch program provides a true safe space to reflect and discuss experiences during residency. Residents can share the successes and challenges of training with their co-residents. The Gold Lunch program brings innovation and education together to optimize residents’ professional well-being and satisfaction.
The Meaning in Medicine program was established in 2018 to promote residents’ sense of fulfillment in their work. Held in a small group format with Sara Nash, MD, a psychiatrist, Meaning in Medicine offers residents protected time to reflect on the joys and challenges of training. Sessions are scheduled every other week during Learning Lab, with separate groups organized for PGY-1s, PGY-2s, and PGY-3s. Through these guided discussions, residents have the opportunity to process the personal and professional transformation that occurs throughout training, connect with the reasons they chose a career in medicine, and support each other in this endeavor.
Prompted by the extraordinary challenges posed by training during a pandemic, the Internal Medicine Residency Program has worked with Columbia’s psychiatry faculty to offer individual, one-on-one, check-ins for each and every resident. These psychiatry appointments are made for every resident as a default, and residents have the option of opting out by emailing the psychiatrist directly. Residents are scheduled for two confidential sessions with a psychiatrist and may use this time however they wish. Based on their needs, residents may link to longer term mental health care through the House Staff Mental Health Service.
The House Staff Mental Health Service (HSMHS) is a referral service offering confidential access to mental health care. Overseen and administered by two faculty psychiatrists, HSMHS is available to all residents and provides individualized referrals to experienced psychiatrists who are part of the program’s network. Residents are eligible for up to eight sessions per year at no cost and have the option to continue longer term therapy.
Our program is proud to support residents through anticipated and unanticipated life experiences through our very progressive and recently updated residency leave policy. Our comprehensive leave policy covers all types of leave (for example, bereavement leave, caregiver leave, medical leave, and parental leave) and provides equal time at home to everyone including to both birth and non-birth parents. Up to 8 weeks of at home are available to all categorical residents without the need to extend their training and in addition to the annual 4 weeks of vacation. We also recognize that no two situations or residents are the same, and therefore work with each resident to individualize their leave plan, including attention to additional support for their transition to return to clinical duties.
Cornerstones of our residents’ experience include time-honored traditions, including our annual Intern Retreat. Held every year in the fall, interns are covered to leave the hospital for a weekend of reflection, bonding, and relaxation outside of the city. We also host Rising Junior Retreat and Rising Senior Retreat for our residents, which allows professional development and provides a space to reflect as they transition to their new role.
The annual Holiday Party takes place around the new year, allowing the entire program to gather together for a night of fine food, music, and dance. In the Spring, our annual Junior-Senior Dinner provides a night of gentle roasting of our incoming and outgoing Chief Residents, along with parodies and videos created by our talented residents. For these special events, our fellows often cover the house to allow for bonding outside of the hospital. The final event of the year is a graduation ceremony for our graduating PGY-3s as they embark on the next stage of their career.
Our residents enjoy daily breakfasts and fresh, hot lunches from some of our favorite neighborhood restaurants including classic New York bagels and a varied selection of eclectic cuisines (some favorites are Taco Tuesday and Indian food). In addition to breakfast and lunch everyday, all residents are provided monthly stipends of $100 to spend at our hospital cafeteria or lobby Starbucks cafe.
Our interns on elective are responsible for organizing a weekly Happy Hour on Wednesday evenings for the entire residency program. These are held throughout the city -- some favorite spots include Harlem Tavern, Pier i, and Bodega 88!
After finishing a night rotation, our residents organize a “post-nights brunch,” which allows the team to bond outside of the hospital and enjoy some sunshine!
As NYP is the official hospital of the New York Yankees and the New York City Football Club, Columbia residents enjoy free tickets to baseball and soccer games throughout the summer and fall. Our residents are also often able to take advantage of specials for local gym memberships including our hospital gym, Equinox, and heavily discounted art museums and Broadway shows.