Resiliency Program

Epstein & Krasner define resilience as the ability of an individual to respond to stress in a healthy, adaptive way such that personal goals are achieved at minimal psychological and physical cost; resilient individuals not only ‘bounce back’ rapidly after challenges but also grow stronger in the process.

It was shown that approximately 50% of medical students experience burnout (2008) and approximately 9% of medical students experience suicidal ideation (2014). Medical students have a higher prevalence of psychological distress compared to the general population and age-matched peers. The contributing factors are a demanding work load, bullying in the medical school environment and financial pressures.

From “Resilience, The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenge” Cambridge University Press, Southwick and Charney (2012) showed that the 10 contributing factors to resilience are optimism, facing fear, moral compass, religion & spirituality, social support, role models, physical exercise, mental exercise, flexibility & acceptance, meaning & purpose.

The goal of this project is to develop a curriculum to build resiliency for students in their 4 years of undergraduate medical education at the University of Ottawa. The student will work with us to research and develop some components of the attached overview according to their interests and their availability.

Resiliency Program Overview

Year 1: Learning a New Lifestyle


  1. What is Resiliency?
  2. What are your coping styles and thinking Traps?
  3. Understanding your adversities in order to “bounce back”

Year 2: Mundane Lifestyle/Transition to Clerkship


  1. The importance of Self-reflection (strengths, weaknesses)
  2. Failure happens to everyone, how do we learn and grow from it?
  3. What can I learn from my adversities?

Year 3: The Busy Life of Clerkship


  1. Pressures of Clerkship (what anxieties/ stressors involved)
  2. Professionalism/Multitasking tools
  3. Choice of Specialty
  4. What makes you Happy (Work Life balance?)

Year 4: Clerkship/ CARMS


  1. What is Burnout?
    • What is Compassion Fatigue?
    • What is Vicarious Trauma?
  2. Coffee with Residents (What to expect in residency)
  3. Importance of work-life balance

Name(s) of supervisor(s)

Dr Kay-Anne Haykal OD MD CCFP, Assistant Dean Student affairs

Melanie Guillemette MACP RP, Counsellor

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