Behind the Poster: An Interview with Mark Mason, PhD, CGP

March 20, 2024

While medical residents and fellows believe in counseling patients about nutrition, many do not feel equipped to engage on the topic. Furthermore, they find it difficult to discuss the importance of making nutrition choices to improve well-being when they themselves have difficulty making the time and effort required to honor their own nutritional needs.

In the poster, “Adapting Well-Being Rounds to Residents Hungry to Learn More about Nutrition,” Mark Mason, PhD, CGP and his team explore the impact of open and honest conversations about nutrition and diet on physician learners. Dr. Mason presented the team’s work in the Poster Hall at the 2024 ACGME Annual Educational Conference, held March 7-9, in Orlando, Florida.

Poster Title: Adapting Well-Being Rounds to Residents Hungry to Learn More about Nutrition
Primary Author: Mark Mason, PhD, CGP
Co-Authors: Mark Mason, PhD, CGP; Denise Taylor, MS, RD; Brian Levine MD

ACGME: Can you tell us about your academic and professional role?

Dr. Mason: I serve the graduate medical education community at ChristianaCare in my role as the Resident Well-Being Specialist in the Center for Worklife Wellbeing. I am a licensed psychologist and hold an appointment with Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.

Over the past five years or so, I have led well-being rounds quarterly with 21 residency and fellowship programs, as well as rotating medical students, and provided support to both learners and faculty members.

ACGME: Can you briefly describe your research?

Mason: With the help of a multidisciplinary team (dietitian, public health, nurse, and physician), we created and facilitated a structured discussion around healthy eating during residency/fellowship. During each hour, we considered what makes this topic hard to discuss, research on physicians’ diets, nutrition myths, and neuro-gastronomy (interactions between brain, food, taste, and eating).

ACGME: What inspired you to do this project?

Mason: Residents have requested this topic for years, but I have been hesitant. The topic is not my expertise, and the nutrition research and recommendations seem constantly in flux. With guidance and encouragement, we designed a workshop that seemed well-received and meaningful to resident/fellow well-being.

ACGME: What did you discover?

Mason: Residents are surprisingly eager to discuss the topic of healthy eating! As expected, eating well while managing high demands and being quite time poor (very little discretionary time) is quite challenging. Residents’ observations and insights, as well as life hacks, were fascinating to learn more about!

ACGME: What was the main takeaway?

Mason: Nutrition is often an overlooked component of well-being. Since bringing fruits to well-being rounds, residents have requested fruit be a regular option, even instead of ice cream!

ACGME: Who could benefit from this research?

Mason: Well-being professionals working with health care professionals may consider more intentional focus on food, nutrition, and culinary medicine. Lifelong habits are formed during the educational program, which could last residents a lifetime of healthy eating.

ACGME: Anything else you’d like to add?

Mason: Relatedly, we break ground this month with a hospital garden for all caregivers (what we call our employees). We are also exploring a resident rotation on culinary medicine, health disparities, and working in the garden!