Can wellness programs stop human rights violations in medicine?

Human Rights Violations + Wellness Programs =

Can a meditation garden in a hospital courtyard help doctors recover from 28-hour shifts? Will resilience workshops help resident physicians on 100+hour work weeks? Could yoga reverse workplace bullying? Probably not.

Seems wellness programs are popping up all over our hospitals and medical schools to help our doctors feel well. Can wellness programs stop human rights violations in medicine?

I turned this question over to Facebook:

Human rights violations + wellness programs =  ________________.

Suicide epidemic

Band-Aid on severed carotid

Lipstick on a pig

Another day as a resident

Human rights violations + wellness programs are like using air fresheners in the toilet. All you get is potpourri scented shit

Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic

Death row

Oxy morons

Victim blaming for not doing wellness well enough

Same shit, different day

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13 comments on “Can wellness programs stop human rights violations in medicine?
  1. tyler wickett says:

    it’s like trying to stop concussions with a safer helmet.

  2. Ann S says:


    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Yep. That word has been suggested by several on Facebook. The truth is the prerequisite to the solution.

  3. Carol McBratnie says:

    Is like giving roses to a spouse that was abused the next morning; knowing your going to abuse them again the next evening.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      It’s so odd our resistance to simply telling the truth (in a field that prides itself on the search for truth).

  4. Paula says:


  5. BA says:

    wellness programs would not be needed if physicians were not abused. PERIOD!

    I am so sick of hearing from people who are in administration and NOT EVEN PHYSICIANS about what I should or should not be doing in terms of productivity. At our clinic, the Pediatric Manager only had a high school diploma yet she was in charge of coaching new doctor to be optimally predicting and would call you in for meetings if you were not productive enough….blah, blah, blah…

    I kid you not! That is BAD medicine!

    • LM says:

      I worked at a very busy medical practice in Hyannis (MA) as a med assist and that is exactly what they do! The practice manager did NOT know squat about patient care and would stand in the lobby and look down the hall with her arms folded timing all of us (docs and medical assistants) with their patients in the exam room. 15 minutes was the goal back then, in and out. Some got 20 minutes. Unacceptable! My doc was new, just passed his boards and he would take 40 minutes and up to an hour if he needed, he just did not care about anyone but his patients. Maybe that’s what all docs need to do, stick together and take charge, you are above the rest.

  6. Virginia L. Waryas says:

    Options –
    =Cosmos Disaster Handbook
    =This, Defines “Living Beautifully”?

  7. Ali says:

    No wellness program will help. I had good coping skills and a great support system for normal life stress. Medical school and residency are not normal stressors but systematic beatings of your mind and physical state. This has to be Doctor vs Doctor. We have to change it. How do we do that Pamela?

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Step 1) recognize the problem and properly diagnose it as human rights violations. Step 2) Redesign medical training.

  8. Pamela Wible MD says:

    Just got this email from a doc:

    “Hey Pamela, I just back from a short vacation and was catching up on my emails today. It was so funny because I just spent the last two hours listening to a “well-being” lecture mandated by the ACGME. And all they talked about was burnout and what we as residents can do about it. And then I opened your email and saw a woman pointing to the word burnout – words that blame doctors. I sat there for two hours and nothing was accomplished. I sat there and listened because I realized there was no point in vocalizing my opinions. The speaker had no intent, no plan of action!!! Why speak for 2hrs about burnout without actually putting a plan together- to enforce “well-being” in residency! And the senior resident next to me sat there doodling on his handout – it will never change. This is sad. After the speaker asked us residents what we could do and the overall consensus was that it was out of our hands to change the system and up to the faculty. That we brought up issues to them before and they had ignored it. But yet the speaker insisted it was our job as residents to cause change.

    At the end of two hours I finally asked the speaker if she had asked the faculty the same question- what could they do to improve the residents well-being. Her answer – they never discussed it

    I don’t understand how ACGME can change our calls from 16 to 24 hours in the blink of any eye without any sound evidence but they can’t implement a program to prevent doctors from killing themselves. One doctor dies every day from suicide and they still call it ‘burnout.'”

    I then shared letter (published with permission) this with a hospital CEO along with this blog and he replies:

    “I think you are right on the money and why is this not being addressed by the md professional groups. Stay at it!”

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