“Start with small, yet highly visible wins.”
These were words of advice wellness expert Dr. Linzer gave us at the beginning of this project, and it’s stuck with us.
Channeling this mind set, we are advocating that Hopkins start by making sure their hardworking residents are no longer losing weight from skipping meals, scavenging for graham crackers from nurse stations in the middle of the night, or experiencing headaches from lack of water. To help fix all this, we really think Hopkins, and any residency program, would be well served to make the small, high-return investment to give residents consistent, easy access to healthy, high-energy, healthy food and water. Yes, simple ideas, but with huge ramifications.
How to actually make this happen will be specific to the unique conditions of each residency program. For Hopkins, this means stocking the individual “firm offices,” the primary gathering spaces for the resident teams with reliable, tasty, energy-boosting sustenance. The key here is that the food is appropriate for their busy lives; for example, bananas are good because they’re easy to eat, while oranges aren’t (they’re messy and take time to peel). Water needs can be solved by plumbing drinking water directly into these team offices (It seems astounding, but residents rarely make it to drinking fountains in the hallway because they are stopped by nurses, patients and others who need their input before they get there). Hopkins is even considering an intervention that enables residents to order food from the hospital cafeteria through their phones for after-hours pick-up, when food options are especially scarce.
With these interventions, we hope we can flip Maslow’s Pyramid back upright to make sure these highly self-actualized physicians are also taking care of their basic, base-of-the-pyramid needs.