Our professional development curriculum helps to nurture and grow our humanism and professional identity – essential foundations for the future resilience and leadership of our residents.
The pedagogy for professional development is story telling. By hearing and sharing our stories, we keep our ‘aspirations’ and ‘imagination’ alive. New pathways emerge, new meanings come into focus. Throughout the academic year, we organize story telling sessions during which all residents interact over lunch with faculty and leaders who share their ‘story’. Each session explores a different career path, including research, health professions education, leadership, private practice, and subspecialty expertise.
Each resident is assigned to a faculty advisor, with whom they work over their career as a resident. Twice a year, they meet with their faculty advisor to review their individual development plans, which include setting goals for both career planning and learning. By assessing their professional development and their strengths and weaknesses on an ongoing basis, residents receive support and also learn how to monitor their own progress. The advisor also aids the resident in finding mentors and scholarship/elective opportunities within their fields of chosen interest (which, understandably, may evolve over the course of training). In addition, the advisor provides career guidance as well as advice around fellowship training options.
Weekly support group
Embedded within our residency program is a weekly resident support group, led by a senior faculty member during each of the four years. This group creates a safe, off-ward space for trainees to discuss challenges in establishing their professional identity and adjusting to their new clinical responsibilities. The groups aim to encourage identity formation, prevent burnout, and promote wellness. An adjunctive resilience curriculum helps residents develop individual skills (such as mindfulness).
Monthly class meetings
A monthly gathering for each class is led by the program director and associate program director. This time is used to discuss opportunities to improve the program and to explore the challenges residents face at work and in life. Topics include managing stress, coping with patient death or harm, and balancing one’s professional and personal life.
The training program continues a longstanding ZHH tradition of not just one, but two retreats each year. There is a half-day fall retreat, and a weekend spring retreat. Residents across training levels look forward to this protected time, as it allows for connecting with peers and attendings outside the pressures of clinical environment. Through team-building exercises, reflections, and process groups, residents focus on awareness of the self as part of both a group and a profession at large.
Humanities in Psychiatry
Engaging with fiction is believed by medical educators to enhance humanistic and professional qualities. It allows us the unique opportunity to tread in the footsteps of a character outside our realm of everyday experience, enhancing our capacity for empathy – a necessary ingredient in professional development. The study of fiction also forces us to confront ethical and moral gray areas that arise in the content, and in this way can promote self-reflection. Our residency program offers several opportunities for this type of learning, including:
- Integration of humanities into the curriculum: In their first year formulation workshop, residents practice the art of biopsychosocial formulation with fictional characters in addition to their patients. Interns read two short stories and watch one film; through the rich and evocative narratives, they glean a new perspective on the human condition that cannot be found in a clinical case history. Short stories and films are also used as teaching tools in the second year communications curriculum as skills like motivational interviewing, shared decision-making, and cultural formulation are developed.
- Book Club: All residents are invited to participate in a monthly book club discussion, which takes place on a Wednesday evening under the direction of two attendings. Dinner is included, and food choice reflects the setting and culture of the novel being discussed (i.e., Indian food was served during a discussion of The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri). There is no standardized reading list; book choice is based on member interest.
- Movie Night: All residents are also invited to our monthly movies nights. We start by watching the chosen movie while enjoying dinner, and follow up with a thoughtful discussion, led by senior residents and faculty. Movie choice is again based on member interest.
- Humanities elective experience: Residents have the opportunity to take an year elective in which they read works of classic and contemporary literature in the study of advanced psychotherapy topics. Through reflective writing prompts based on the texts, they examine closely their own counter-transferential reactions to patients, and in this way, become more self-aware practitioners.
Reflective writing has been shown to improve empathic patient interactions, professional identity, and clinical reasoning. At least three times a year throughout residency, trainees participate in a faculty-led reflective writing exercise. Topics for reflection range from exploration of one’s ‘calling’ to psychiatry to an examination of an adverse patient outcome to the appropriate use of humor in the clinical setting. We aim to create reflective prompts and ensuing discussions that can lead to self-awareness, and we encourage residents to share their reflections with their faculty advisors in the ongoing process of creating a career development plan.
In addition to participating in the many different activities sponsored by the School of Medicine’s Osler Society, all residents are also invited to contribute works of fiction, non-fiction, reflective pieces, and works of art to the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine’s art and literary journal, Narrateur: Reflections on Caring. Narrateur is a celebration of the humanistic values of medicine, and the incredible importance of the patients who come to us for help. Reflecting on those special moments that bond caregivers with patients is one of the ways that we learn about ourselves, remember why we chose the field of medicine, and continue to build a sense of satisfaction in our work. You can see past volumes at:
Hofstra Northwell offers advanced training in a variety of psychiatric subspecialties.