Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Emergency Medicine

Wellness and Work-Life Balance


The incorporation of wellness and resilience training in emergency medicine is a necessary component of training the next generation of emergency physicians. At Northwestern we have developed a multifaceted approach to promoting a healthy learning and work environment for our residents. Residency-wide embracing of the annual retreat and regular Adams Club evenings, inclusion of wellness and resilience topics into the didactic curriculum, and a departmental committee on wellness and workplace environment are all examples of ways our program is addressing our wellness priorities.

Our annual two-day retreat is an important part of resident wellness. All residents are excused from clinical duties to spend time at a retreat center outside Chicago. Our retreat agenda includes team-building activities, class meetings with faculty leadership, resilience workshops, and social time with other residents and faculty. Suggestions for residency program changes and future goals are also discussed in work groups during the retreat.

Our monthly Adams Club evenings provide another opportunity for residents and faculty to gather off-campus in a relaxed environment. Hosted by faculty members in their homes, Adams Club consists of dinner and faculty-led teaching sessions. Many residents and faculty use these social gatherings as times to meet with their residency “family” or faculty “coaches” – the members of their personal work life social support network.

We have also developed a resident, faculty, and staff task force for continued innovation in department wellness. With the mission of educating, promoting and supporting wellness and resilience among emergency physicians at Northwestern, the committee works throughout the academic year to develop wellness activities and practices and to recognize the scholarly potential of examining wellness programs for emergency physicians.

A resident wellness initiative of a monthly class social helps foster camaraderie and relaxation. Each class works with the Chief Residents to schedule a night free of clinical duty every month.