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Thursday Food for the Soul
Thursday Food for the Soul

Food for the Soul (FFTS) is monthly reflective practice seminar for Cambridge Health Alliance Psychiatry Residents (PGY-1), Transitional Residents (PGY-1), and Medicine Residents (PGY 1-3), facilitated by faculty members, Drs. Maren Batalden (hospitalist and former Medicine Residency Program Director) and Liz Gaufberg (Director of CHA Center for Professional Development).  

FFTS provides CHA residents with a safe, supportive environment to reflect on the four cardinal relationships within medicine: doctor-patient, doctor-colleague, doctor-society and doctor-self.   Through the processes of reflection, discussion, problem-solving and role-play we seek to:
  • Keep curiosity, wonder and empathy alive
  • Maintain self-awareness and find meaning in the practice of medicine
  • Achieve wellness, and a reasonable degree of personal-professional balance
  • Maintain effective communication with patients, colleagues and faculty mentors
  • Appreciate the ways in which socioeconomic, cultural, psychological and systems factors affect health and illness
  • Understand the various forces (including those within the ‘hidden’ curriculum) that help shape professional identity

We’ve focused on a variety of resident concerns including the challenges of medical training, maintaining work-life balance, evolution of one’s sense of professional identity, the meaning of suffering, and strategies for “staying human”.

We most often structure our sessions around a reflective trigger, with discussion and sometimes role-play.  Effective triggers often come from the world of the arts, and the most effective sessions are resident-led or co-led.

Sample FFTS sessions (® = resident led)
  • “This is Water” David Foster Wallace Graduation Address: Read aloud and discuss: exploration of our assumptions and automatic behaviors -- importance of looking with fresh eyes
  • Haiku Exercise with Medical Prompts ®
  • Yale Graduation Speech by Don Berwick/ Red Brocade Poem by Naomi Shihab-Nye (Exploration of what it means to be a visitor to someone else’s illness experience)
  • Harvard Art Museum Visits – Reflection, Spirituality, Cultural Competence
  • Public Narrative Exercise (story of self, story of us, story of know)
  • Found Poems  (excerpted from medical charts)
  • Indian Dancing ®
  • Modern Dance ®
  • Music for the Soul with live performers ®
  • Addiction Performance Project (Dramatic Reading of Long Days Journey into Night to stimulate discussion on caring for patients with addictions)
  • Third Thing ® Residents asked to share their own reflective triggers
  • Readers Theater – Laundry, Use of Force, Ambulance
  • Difficult patients ®
  • Life/Training Transitions
  • Resilience ®
  • Mindfulness Meditation ®
  • Yoga
  • Benchmarks of Success (advice to incoming interns)
  • Exploration of Promises/Oath writing