October 12th, 2016

Residents Hit the Gym as the Internal Medicine Residency Fitness Challenge Begins

By Justin Fiala, M.D.

At the beginning of this month, the Internal Medicine Residency at Mayo Clinic, Rochester started its first ever Fitness Challenge. The initiative is the brainchild of program director, Dr. Amy Oxentenko and former-chief-resident-turned-staff-member, Dr. Bri Vaa, and seeks to improve the health and overall wellbeing of residents and staff within the Internal Medicine Residency.

The rules of the challenge are simple: participants (either residents or IM Residency staff) find a team mate and do the exercise of their choosing for 20 minutes each (or 40 minutes by one partner). To earn their team a point for the day, participants must document themselves and their team mate exercising by posting a side by side picture to the Fitness Challenge social media page. Surprise challenges are also intermittently offered, with specific exercise goals (most recently 200 burpees) that participants would need to complete in order to win their team an extra point for the day. Those points are then tallied over the course of the month to determine which teams are eligible to be entered into the raffle for the monthly prizes.fitness-challenge-pic

So far, over 35 teams have signed up, with daily posts showing residents and IM Residency staff doing everything from biking to yoga. And what is more, the residents love it! Yosuf Subat, a categorical PGY-1, notes how seeing his colleagues’ posts on the Fitness Challenge site served as a motivator for him to fit an early-morning workout into his day. “You see what everybody else is doing and think, ‘I’ve gotta fit it in somehow.’”

Despite the competitive nature of the challenge, the overall atmosphere remains collegial and lighthearted, with residents encouraging one another, both on the Fitness Challenge website and in person, when they run into each other around the Mayo campus. Dr. Korosh Sharain, chief resident and Fitness Challenge participant, echoes this sentiment, noting that, “The Fitness Challenge has created a real sense of camaraderie within the program. It’s great!”

The Fitness Challenge comes on the heels of a larger resident wellness curriculum, headed by Dr. Vaa, which incorporates multidisciplinary didactic sessions and collaborative, small-group sessions, to address various topics related to resident wellbeing. Such initiatives have sprung up in the setting of a growing national emphasis on trainee burnout, and illustrate the Mayo Internal Medicine Residency program’s dedication to fostering a supportive and healthy environment for its residents.

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