A Sneak Peak at the OMSA Wellness Retreat 2015


Spring is coming soon and we have some good news for you: the OMSA Wellness Retreat is less than a month away! This is a unique opportunity to relax, meet your peers from other Ontario medical schools and learn valuable tips and strategies for self-care as a future physician.


As medical students, we are inherently self-sacrificing:  we study late and work hard, but it is essential that we learn to care for ourselves to be able to provide the best care to our future patients. An important aspect of self-care is making time for yourself. Case in point: taking a wellness retreat.


Now you might be asking: what should I expect from a wellness retreat? Retreats are widely used in corporate, spiritual and personal practices. They are meant to allow time for reflection, meditation and connection. We are privileged to have one tailored just for us medical students!

Our theme for the OMSA Wellness Retreat this year – Cultivating Resilience: Healthy Doctors, Healthy Communities – connects how our personal wellness is intimately connected to the health of our future patients.  Research has shown that medical student and physician satisfaction is correlated with higher levels of altruism [1], increased empathy for patients [2-3], and ultimately results in better patient care [4]. The effect is also contagious and spreads across communities – the happier you are, the happier your colleagues and patients tend to be [5]!


At the OMSA Wellness Retreat, you will relax and connect with other like-minded colleagues from all six Ontario medical schools.  You’ll learn how to put your own wellness into practice with workshops led by our senior colleagues: physicians who have been in our shoes before and will share their wisdom with us.

A teaser for what’s to come:

  • Tips for eating well on the go
  • Staying fit despite a busy schedule
  • How to be your personal masseuse
  • Harnessing the power of positive thinking
  • Using art, theatre and writing as reflection & expression
  • Developing resilience to handle the pressures of our challenging (but rewarding) profession


Let’s face it: we are nearing the end of another school year. We have had midterms, electives, community placements and other exciting activities, but all of these could be also mentally and sometimes physically exhausting. A change of environment even for a day or two, like spending a weekend with other medical students at the resort outside of your home city, has a positive impact on the person’s wellbeing and performance.


You’ll be ready to go back to your ‘regular life’ armed with new skills and new friends… although, we really shouldn’t call it ‘regular’, because medical school is a unique lifetime experience that should be enjoyed. This is the real purpose of the retreat: to take a step aside and appreciate these wonderful years of medical training.


Spring is a great time to have a rejuvenating break just like nature revives in spring. So let’s begin our journey towards resilient, mindful and relaxed selves at the annual OMSA Wellness Retreat – looking forward to seeing you on Mar 27!


Julia P., University of Ottawa, OMSA Wellness Committee
Reviewed by Marie L., Queen’s University, OMSA Wellness Liaison



  1. Dyrbye LN, Harper W, Moutier C, et al. A multi-institutional study exploring the impact of positive mental health on medical students’ professionalism in an era of high burnout. Acad Med. 2012;87(8):1024-31.

  2. Shanafelt TD, West C, Zhao X, et al. Relationship between increased personal well-being and enhanced empathy among internal medicine residents. J Gen Intern Med. 2005;20(7):559-64.

  3. Haas JS, Cook EF, Puopolo AL, et al. Is the professional satisfaction of general internists associated with patient satisfaction? J General Intern Med. 2000:15:122-128.

  4. Kerse N, Buetow S, Mainous AG, et al. Physician-patient relationship and medication compliance: a primary care investigation. Ann Family Med. 2004;2:455-461.

  5. Devoe J, Fryer GE, Straub A, Mccann J, Fairbrother G. Congruent satisfaction: is there geographic correlation between patient and physician satisfaction? Med Care. 2007;45(1):88-94.