When Jack Benecke, DO matched with Indiana University School of Medicine for his anesthesiology residency, he was excited to join a large program known for a variety of opportunities.
“IU is like a Disneyland of cases and training opportunities,” said Benecke, who is now a chief resident in the program. “We rotate through five tertiary care hospitals and have a significant breadth of clinical education.”
But with those extensive training opportunities comes a difficult and demanding schedule. Many residents work up to 80 hours a week, with some shifts lasting 24 hours straight.
“The responsibility is something that all of us take very seriously, because you literally hold the patient's life in your hands,” Benecke said. “You're in total control of the blood pressure, the heart rate, and all the physiology, and then trying to keep the patient in this homeostatic environment while surgeons are operating. Especially here at IU, the cases that we do are complex trauma, transplants and everything in between.”
Benecke knew the journey to becoming a physician would require a grueling schedule and some sacrifices. Thankfully, others have seen the high physical and emotional demands residents go through.
In August, the Eleanor Talwar Resident Wellness Fund was established to help support wellness efforts for the 1,400 residents and fellows at IU School of Medicine. The Talwar family recently got to know several residents—Benecke; surgical critical care fellow Cristina Alexandra Perez Viso, MD; surgery resident Alexa Hughes, MD; surgery resident Sean McGuire, MD; and anesthesiology resident Christopher Rud, DO—and saw their hard work and dedication.
“I feel very well supported at IU, but having this additional recognition means so much,” Benecke said. “Mr. Talwar would ask us ‘how are you doing?’ and then he would bring us healthy snacks. Those gestures may seem small to others, but we were so grateful for their generosity.”
The Eleanor Talwar Resident Wellness Fund was established to thank the trainees for their extraordinary service, but also to create a resource to help young physicians at a critical juncture in their learning across IU. This fund will create a variety of support for residents including access to healthy snacks while on service.
“This is the first donation we’ve ever received dedicated to resident wellness,” said Zeina Nabhan, MD, associate dean of graduate medical education. “The donors reached out to the residents and asked ‘what can we do to support you?’ and the residents identified wellness as one of those areas where they would like more support.”
Residents were asked to join a task force to determine how best to use these funds in an impactful and meaningful way.
“Wellness is not the same for everybody, so we needed to be very thoughtful to respect the donors and find something that the residents would appreciate,” Nabhan said. “Food is important for everybody, including the donors, so we’re going to provide healthy snack options in five of the academic hospitals for our residents.”
“The Talwars’ love language was food,” Benecke said. “When we’re rounding or busy in the intensive care unit, there are times when we end up skipping meals or just getting something quick from a vending machine, so have the availability and ease of a quick healthy snack, I think we're all going to be very grateful for that gift.”
The GME office is also working on creating the Resident Wellness Support Fund Award, which will be supported by this gift to help residents who might be experiencing personal challenges.
“I think sometimes as the resident, you can be the low man or woman on the totem pole,” Benecke said. “To have a gift that represents and signifies the hard work that we put in every day is really special.”
Learn more about the Eleanor Talwar Resident Wellness Fund. To learn more about supporting learner wellness at IU School of Medicine, please contact Caitie Deranek Stewart at 317-278-2133 or email@example.com.