Through Storytelling, Resilience Rounds Resonate With Physicians at all Career Stages
September 29, 2023 — by John Knox, Knox Communications
They started more than a decade ago as occasions to pause from the hectic pace of everyday medicine and renew the spirit of Sir William Osler, one of the most honored names in medicine.
Those “Osler Evenings,” as they were called, have evolved into Resilience Rounds: periodic events to build community and informal mentorships among medical students, residents, and faculty in Stanford’s Department of Medicine.
Building on the success of a gathering of approximately 50 people in May, third-year internal medicine resident Hayley Galitzer, MD, is looking forward to the next Resilience Rounds later this year.
Galitzer, who leads the program with Poonam Hosamani, MD, instigated the events in their current form, based on her experience as a medical student at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
“I was really moved by a series of programs they had every two or three months," Galitzer said.
Each program had a theme - impostor syndrome, perfectionism, identity in medicine, for example - that was relevant to physicians at all stages of their careers. The theme was a prompt for three individuals from different levels of training - medical students, residents, fellows, and attendings - to share stories, which were followed by general discussion.
“It was always great to understand what resonated with people, and more than anything those programs at NYU were just a very casual way to talk about the more challenging parts of a medical career. For me, it was very therapeutic as a medical student to see that the feelings I was having were normal and that those feelings may arise at different times in my career,” said Galitzer.
At Stanford, the Department of Medicine had its Osler Evenings, which were based on interviews with guest speakers rather than storytelling.
“It was a way to help medical students understand various career paths in medicine by having department leaders converse one on one with other wonderful faculty within our department who are either very involved in research or have leadership roles within the School of Medicine or within the department,” said Hosamani, clinical associate professor of medicine and associate program director of the Stanford Internal Medicine Residency Program.
Funded by the Shenson Foundation, the popular program was organized in 2009 by Abraham Verghese, MD, senior associate chair and professor of The Theory and Practice of Medicine, but it had become dormant during the pandemic.
“We obviously had to pause for COVID, and when things started back up again, I noticed a particular need for a lot of community building,” said Hosamani.
She noted how medicine is often very siloed into different levels of training and how the pandemic made that even worse.
“We really felt the need to bring people together – people who had only seen each other through a zoom screen – so they could get to know each other,” she said.
In late 2021 Hosamani was asked to help Verghese and Sonoo Thadaney Israni in the Department of Medicine Bedside Medicine Group, which led her to restart Osler Evenings with a slightly different approach. The evenings became much more focused on allowing students, residents, and faculty to stop and reflect while building connections between people in a less structured way. There were informal conversations about life in internal medicine, what motivated faculty to pursue different activities, and similar topics. Then, earlier this year, Galitzer approached Hosamani about bringing the NYU Resilience Rounds format to Stanford.
“We both felt that, coming out of the pandemic, there was a great need for community and there were many important stories to tell. We wanted to provide an intimate platform for those stories now that people started to feel more connected again. I encouraged Hayley, who spoke with people at NYU about how to structure Resilience Rounds at Stanford, and we were then able to create a new type of experience. That first Resilience Rounds gathering in May was focused on the topic of transitions and change to help bring people together,” said Hosamani.
That event featured different representatives – an attending, a resident, and a medical student – who shared their stories related to the topic.
“It was such a powerful moment because you could just see how what they were talking about seemed to transcend who they were, their level of training, their silo,” Hosamani said.
One of the storytellers, second year medical student Amy Bugwadia, added that “it was such a safe environment to be able to share with everyone. It was like an intergenerational storytelling so people at all levels of training were there supporting each other.”
One Medical Student's Story
Second year medical student Amy Bugwadia shared the following story during the May 2023 Resilience Rounds session on transitions and change
My story centered around my own experiences navigating chronic illness. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 10, and what really inspired me to go into medicine was that disease journey as well as my own experiences as a caregiver for my family members who had cancer and other chronic diseases, which certainly fostered resilience. And as I’m now transitioning to the other side of the white coat after having spent 15 years as a chronic illness patient, that particular transition from patient to provider was the transition that I focused on as I was sharing my story.