As the co-director of the Facial Pain Unit in the Department of Dentistry at Mount Sinai Hospital as well as an Associate in Dentistry at the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Bruce Freeman was seeing some of the real effects of stress and burnout on the dental residents he was supervising. “After hearing the tragic news of multiple suicides of U of T dental students in the past few years, and knowing the tremendous pressures that our learners are under, made me want to try something different.” In addition to his work at Mount Sinai, Bruce was undertaking yoga teacher training and learning more about mindfulness meditation practice in order to manage his own stress. Through this, he saw an opportunity to bring mindfulness, breathing techniques, and meditation as a starting point to open the conversation about mental wellness, helping residents fill their personal tool box with ways to handle the daily stressors of practice. He says, “I know that looking after yourself makes us better equipped to take care of patients. Self-care is a part of patient care.” For the second year in a row, Bruce meets with the six dental residents doing their residency at Mount Sinai every Tuesday afternoon. Even former residents come and join in, and together they go through mindfulness exercises, discuss the challenges of the past week, and participate in a traditional Hatha class, including breathing techniques and meditation. “The response has been tremendous,” says Bruce, “and the residents will relay how they use these new skills throughout the day.” Dr. Maral Aghourian was a resident through 2018 and 2019, and she was such a fan of the experience, she has joked she wants to Skype in for classes and has began her own yoga practice. “Participating in yoga classes was a nice way to escape the stress during residency and refresh, both mentally and physically,” says Maral. For the current residents, there is a lot of enthusiasm for the program as well. Dr. Taras Klitovchenko says, “The incorporation of a weekly wellness program into our residency has been instrumental for both physical wellness after strenuous weeks as well as team bonding.” While the yoga and mindfulness sessions will continue for dental residents, Dr. Freeman hopes that other departments will start similar programs. “I’d love to see other areas across Sinai Health share similar activities for residents,” says Bruce. “We understand that mental health is important for everyone, and I know we can find creative ways to address this as a teaching hospital, helping ensure we all deliver the best care possible for our patients.”

Healthy Workplace Month

At Sinai Health, Workplace Wellness (formerly called Healthy Workplace) offers a number of classes intended to foster the wellbeing of our learners, employees, physicians and volunteers. From yoga to Bollywood dance, to excellent gym facilities at both Bridgepoint and Mount Sinai, there are a number of opportunities for our people to sweat, chill out, or both. Farha Bakharia, Sinai Health’s Workplace Wellness coordinator, says that opportunities to enhance wellbeing at work are a win-win for Sinai Health as an employer, and for our people. “We want our people to feel their best – to be energetic, resilient and generally well,” says Farha. “Sinai Health’s commitment to wellness at work is felt everywhere you go, and we are happy to share our People Plan wellbeing strategies.” For more information about Workplace Wellness, including a special calendar of events for all of October, which is marked as Healthy Workplace Month, visit the Mount Sinai Intranet or visit here for Bridepoint. information.

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