Our Programs for Medical Students and Residents
Conscientious, driven, idealistic, and passionate, medical students and residents are our future healthcare practitioners and leaders. Yet these admirable traits may make them particularly prone to anxiety, depression, and burnout.
Studies show that the prevalence of depression and burnout in medical students is higher than the age-matched general population, other college grads, and is predictive of suicidal ideation. Up to 50% of medical students experience burnout and 10% report suicidal ideation. While factors contributing to this are still being defined, it is likely that a culture that is hierarchical, highly competitive and demanding, repeatedly induces sleep deprivation, and tolerates little margin for error contributes to high rates of burnout and mental health issues.
Traditional medical training, with its strong emphasis on knowledge acquisition and efficiency, has historically neglected to formally teach or acknowledge the importance of skills that facilitate connection and well-being. Self-compassion, mindfulness, setting and respecting boundaries, emotional intelligence, and leadership skills CAN be learned and are essential in developing resilient physicians who can advocate for themselves, and remain engaged and connected to the meaning in their work over the course of a career.
The use of equine facilitated learning with medical students was pioneered by Dr. Allan Hamilton at The University of Arizona in 2001 and has been replicated in other programs both across the country and internationally. Dr. Artz is partnering with UnityPoint Health to train medical students and residents who rotate within the UnityPoint system. Medical students from the University of Iowa who are completing their third year clerkships at UnityPoint spend one day/week for three weeks at Monarch gaining important skills focused on increasing resilience and well-being. Internal Medicine residents can elect to complete a two-week elective rotation with an extended curriculum that delves more in depth into leadership skills including handling conflict productively, and leading challenging conversations with patients or colleagues.
Eliciting change and influencing others in a positive direction must begin with changing ourselves. We anticipate the benefits of this program will extend beyond the internal changes in the students and residents to the patients and families they care for – now and throughout their careers.
What our learners have to say
The Hoofprints and Heartbeats program was a wonderful opportunity to learn how to engage when outside your comfort zone. I learned about setting boundaries, multiple approaches to create a connection, and the importance of establishing a relationship based on trust. In addition to learning about patient care, there is a strong component of reflection, application to the patient care, and self-care. I would recommend anyone in the healthcare field to partake, especially those who feel burned out. This was a rejuvenating and rewarding experience!
The University of Iowa
Before “Hoofprints and Heartbeats” I had never interacted with horses. During the program I learned that horses have a special way of using non-verbal communication. I was able to work with a magnificent bay horse named Kismet during an activity where we helped the animals gain comfort around unfamiliar objects. Leading them through the course while making sure they were comfortable helped me pick up on the non-verbal hesitation they were feeling. This experience helped me learn connection which will be helpful with patients. Thank you Dr. Artz!
The University of Iowa
Getting away to this calm and relaxing atmosphere was great for personal wellness, but also helped me to be able to step back and work on what my true self actually entails. This career can be pretty stressful, and engender an unhealthy cycle of negative experiences and anxiety. The experience influenced me to work on ways to calm myself. It helped me search for ways to understand and learn from non-compliance or other frustrating situations rather than let emotions take hold.
The University of Iowa
An investment in our learners is an investment in the future of healthcare.
Students and residents who have learned to be more mindful and aware of the way they are interacting with others and who have developed skills contributing to resiliency will influence the health of our community and the world beyond over the course of their career. Investing in our medical students and residents is investing in the future of our healthcare systems and communities.
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