The Society of Gynecologic Oncology wellness curriculum pilot: A groundbreaking initiative for fellowship training

Published:January 05, 2020DOI:


      • A fellow wellness curriculum was successfully piloted at 15 gynecologic oncology fellowships.
      • The curriculum was well received by faculty and fellows.
      • This satisfies ACGME requirements and can be implemented nationwide.



      Trainee well-being is a core component of ACGME program requirements and the SGO has recognized the high incidence of burnout among gynecologic oncologists and its negative impact. To foster a culture of wellness throughout the SGO community we sought to engage current fellows along with fellowship directors in a structured didactic program designed to teach wellness. We evaluated the feasibility of and preliminary responses to a pilot curriculum designed to teach skills that promote wellness and prevent burnout.


      The SGO Wellness Taskforce developed a curriculum with topics based on established evidence as well as specialty specific stressors such as end of life discussions. Faculty leaders from 15 pilot-sites attended a full-day training course and then taught four modules over four months. Interactive modules engaged fellows through reflective writing, guided discussion, and multimedia presentations. Fellows completed the Perceived Stress Scale pre- and post-implementation and provided feedback regarding attitudes toward wellness and the individual modules. Faculty curriculum leaders completed surveys regarding their attitudes toward the curriculum as well as their trainees' reactions.


      Among 73 participating gynecologic oncology fellows, 95% (69/73) and 52/73 (71%) completed the pre-and post-surveys, respectively. Only 34/73 (49%) respondents reported that there was wellness programming at their institution prior to the initiation of the SGO curriculum. At institutions where such programming was available, 35% (12/34) reported not utilizing them. Fifty-five (80%) fellows had PSS scores greater than 12 compared to 39 (75%) post-intervention. After the curriculum, the percentage of fellows comfortable discussing wellness topics increased from 63 to 74%. Prior to the curriculum, 75% felt they could identify symptoms of burnout or psychosocial distress. This increased to 90% post-intervention. The modules were well received by fellows, and the time spent addressing wellness was widely appreciated.


      A structured curriculum to promote wellness among gynecologic oncology fellows is feasible and was associated with observed decreased reported stress among fellows at participating programs. This curriculum addresses ACGME requirements regarding trainee well-being, and showed potential for more programmatic, nationwide implementation. Fellowship culture change was not directly measured, but may have been one of the most significant positive outcomes of the wellness program. Further longitudinal studies will be necessary to understand the natural course of fellow burnout and the impact of structured wellness programming.
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