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Finding Better Balance

Finding Better Balance

Limitations on duty hours during residency began to take effect as KATHERINE C. CHRETIEN ’00 was finishing her Osler residency in 2003. In the ensuing years, as she served on the faculty of George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, she witnessed a growing emphasis on work-life balance for medical students and trainees.

In her new role at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, she has been charged with strengthening such efforts.

“Today, we’re much more attuned to wellness in medical education and have realized, as a profession, that we ignored that for a long time. We’re understanding how important it is to care for ourselves and how that translates into the best care of patients,” says Chretien, who on July 1 began work as associate dean for medical student affairs and director of medical student wellness.

She says medical trainees can feel extreme pressure that follows them into an intense career and can result in burnout, depression and anxiety.

That’s why Chretien aims to help Johns Hopkins medical students to thrive. She plans to assess their needs and then implement programs to address the gaps. Her vision is for Johns Hopkins trainees to become “not just clinically excellent, compassionate physicians and future leaders, but balanced people who will lead deeply fulfilling lives in medicine.”

A prolific writer, she has published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, with a focus on physician professionalism, wellness and interactions with social media. In 2008, she created a blog to support physician mothers. A decade later, she compiled some of the best posts and wisdom from the blog in the book Mothers in Medicine: Career, Practice, and Life Lessons Learned. She is currently working on a second book, I Wish I Read This Before Medical School.

One of the ways that Chretien integrates wellness into her own life, she says, is by being present with the people who are most meaningful to her, such as her husband JEAN-PAUL CHRETIEN ’00 and their three children.

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