Your Conference Experience: Q and A with Poster Presenter Hedy S. Wald, PhD

Dr. Hedy Wald of Boston Children’s Hospital-Harvard Medical School and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University was a first-time ACGME Annual Educational Conference attendee as a result of acceptance of her poster, Faculty Videos – An Innovation within Residency Resilience Skills Programs at Two Institutions, for presentation at the Poster Session. An avid social networker, she introduced herself to us at the Twitter Board on Thursday morning before the pre-conferences, and we continued the conversation throughout and after the conference. We asked Dr. Wald about her experience as a poster presenter and first-time attendee of our conference.

Q: Tell us about who you are on the job. What are your academic/professional roles? How – and why – did you come to work in?

A: I am the Director of Resident Resilience and Wellbeing for the Residency Program in Child Neurology and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at Boston Children’s Hospital-Harvard Medical School, and Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. I have a PhD in clinical psychology and post-doctoral fellowship training in neuropsychology – I bring these “hats” along with my background as a medical educator to the work I do with resident resilience and well-being. My scholarship in reflective practice, use of narrative in medical education, and professional identity formation also informs my work. Our program director, Dr. David Urion, was very interested in promoting resident resilience and well-being even before the [recent revision to Section VI of the] ACGME Common Program Requirements, and invited me to work with the residency program. I designed and implemented the “WE CARE” (Wellbeing Education: Coaching, Awareness, Resilience, Engagement) resilience skills and individualized coaching program. I present resilience/well-being skills workshops and keynotes internationally for trainees and faculty members.

Q: What made you submit a poster abstract for this conference specifically?

A: Brenda Bursch, PhD (Semel Institute and David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA) and I had some exciting data outcomes for faculty resilience videos we had filmed and shown to residents at our respective institutions. We wanted to share the love! (and the data…)

Q: Tell us about your poster! What was the project about?

A: Given that resilience role models are key to cultivating resilience, an innovation of faculty videos at our residency programs was developed with selected faculty members sharing a narrative of coping with a significant personal or professional challenge and what helped them cope. Feedback was quite positive when residents were queried about the videos being relevant to their personal or professional experience, learning about coping with physician challenges, helping to humanize the attending in a useful way, learning about coping with work-related challenges, and gaining new perspectives/insights on resiliency from viewing the videos.

Q: What did you expect from the ACGME Annual Educational Conference?

A: I was interested to hear about pertinent current topics in GME through the plenaries, share ideas with other educators and administrators on promoting resident resilience/well-being and leadership skills, and network with colleagues.

Q: What was your experience like once at the conference?

A: My aims for the conference were realized! The positive feedback on our poster both at the Poster Session and within workshops when I discussed our innovation was gratifying. I had interesting discussions with people I met and appreciated their interest in both my program and my workshops, and I am looking forward to continued conversations and collaborations. The venue was just lovely, and as a Bostonian, I was most appreciative of soaking up some sun during the breaks! Both the ACGME and hotel staff were friendly and helpful and I appreciated that.

Q: What was your greatest takeaway? What was the biggest surprise?

A: Greatest takeaway – well, there’s more than one…that I am part of a vibrant residency education community and have skills and innovations to share, that was validating. And a deepened appreciation for the role of resilience/well-being skills within effective leadership. Biggest surprise – the conference center had a nature walk that was a ton of fun and a wonderful reward at the end of a packed conference day.

Q: Will you come again? Why/Why not?

A: I hope to. It’s good to “walk the talk” of being an engaged lifelong learner. And scholarship in the domain of resident resilience/well-being is important for our learners, faculty members, and patients, and is a keen interest of mine.

Q: Can you share something else about yourself?

A: I love creative writing (check out my JAMA pieces!) and poetry and long-distance cycling. I’m a mother of four, grandmother of four, and wife of one. I’m a cancer caregiver, and thus living resilience from “both sides now.” I enjoy the Twitter community of practice and invite you to follow me - @hedy_wald “Mind/Body/Spirit of MedEd.”