Intern Wellness

By Bryan Hendrickson, MD

About a year ago, before starting my own intern year, I came across a blog post from our program director, Dr. Van Hala, “Tenets for Internship and Beyond“. A new year is well on its way, but I encourage anyone beginning this journey to take a moment to read her words of wisdom.


Interviewing with the family medicine residency program here at the University of Utah, I was impressed with the energy and focus placed on wellness here. Throughout the past year, I have appreciated the continuing encouragement to set goals, make plans, and check in on my own wellness.


As an intern in family medicine, every four weeks usually brings a completely new experience and a new schedule. It can be challenging to juggle the responsibilities of learning patient care, expanding medical knowledge, and living life.  In general, I’ve found that wellness happens when it’s planned. From my experience this past year, here are a few tips on planning for wellness in our resident lives.


Stay Connected

  • Schedule time ahead with people important to you.
  • Time flies. Weeks start to go by faster than you can blink. If you schedule time to connect, it is more likely to happen.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to spend time with co-residents outside of work.

Prioritize Sleep

  • Set an alarm clock (or two) for waking, and set a reminder for a bed time. Plan time to get ready for bed, too.
  • There’s a certain amount of time needed to survive, function, or feel well. Plan enough to feel well. Set up a routine that helps you get there. For me, I found it helpful to use a timed light that goes off when I should be getting ready for bed.
  • Plug phones in away from bed. (Avoid the temptation to “just check” facebook, reddit, snapchat, etc).
  • Be aware of sleep debt.
  • Some time off might have to be spent catching up. Avoid accruing the debt, feel better and spend time off enjoying life.

Pre-plan Health Care

  • Establish with a PCP, and a dentist.
  • Set up medical appointments in advance, and regularly, even if you end up not having an immediate need, it can help to have something on the books for a check in.

Schedule Fun

  • Set up something purely fun to look forward to each week. I picked something simple for Thursdays I can do even when I’m on a late shift.

Protect your Time/Sanity

  • Turn down the volume on social media
  • Turn off (or limit) notifications. Most apps have settings for choosing what types of alerts get triggered. Check in when you want to, not whenever your phone is buzzing.
  • “Do today’s work today” – Dr. Van Hala, our program director (see above link)
  • Regarding notes: I’ve yet to find a time I’d like to be working on notes more than the day I saw the patient. Sometimes it makes for a long day, but it feels great to go home with the work done and to start fresh the next morning.

Get Outside / Get Moving

  • Hike, walk, bike, swim, step outside whenever you can.
  • Have a grab bag of physical activities that you can do with whatever amount of time you have.


  • When things get overwhelming, focus on today, this minute.
  • “As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you then wrong”- Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living

Bryan Hendrickson 6 16 15

Bryan Hendrickson, MD is a second year Family Medicine Resident in the Department of Family & Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

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