Resident Well-Being

Emergency Medicine Well-Being Committee

Mission Statement:

To improve the health, well-being, and sense of community for Harbor-UCLA EM Residents by identifying sources of fatigue, moral injury, and system level challenges, while promoting the awareness of habits, resources, and opportunities that improve the quality of life of our residents.

The Emergency Medicine Well-Being Committee was initially started as a resident initiative to improve and promote the health of residents within the program. Working in conjunction with faculty the committee has grown and expanded to a GME-wide program within the hospital.

Latest News in Harbor-UCLA Wellness (2023)

We have recently been fortunate to receive a grant with funds specifically focused towards resident wellness with a focus on improving their physical health and ensuring comfort within the hospital. Some interventions have included a monthly healthy snack stipend, available filtered water, HelloFresh Meal Boxes, and funds provided for physical fitness.

Wellness and Mentorship Programs:

Peer (Big-Little Sib) Mentor Program

Mentoring program for residents, by residents. It exists to identify a peer that an individual can go to through the good times and the bad, while making it easier to get help should the need arise. Big Sibs (R3 paired with R1 and R4 paired with R2) provide mentorship and a welcomed meal for their little sibs while they are on the SICU rotation and throughout the year. They also perform “check-ins” in a format of their choice to assess their well-being.

Buddy Group Program

A group of 2-3 faculty with recent alumni and a member from each current PGY class creating a “family” community for both peer mentoring and camaraderie. Faculty and residents go out for a meal or fun activity (mini-golf, hiking, pottery making, standup) every quarter, providing an additional point of contact for resident buddies.

Sub-Intern Mentoring Program

Treating our Sub-I’s to Mitsuwa

To help medical students interested in emergency medicine navigate their rotation at Harbor as well as their upcoming interview season. R3 and R4 residents hold two in person meetings as well as at least 1 text/phone call throughout the 3-4 week rotation. Communication continues as needed beyond the rotation.

Shout-Out Program

In an effort to recognize both the big and little moments of excellence on and off shift, this program was created to show gratitude to our colleagues. To shout out those within the emergency department (residents, fellows, faculty, nurses, RTs, social workers, techs, clerks, etc.) fill out a card and place it in the box available in each doctor workroom or submit it online here. These shout outs are read at conferences each week and then given to the recipients.

Women in EM

Created to help empower and support women in EM. Cheese and Whine nights are held at resident and faculty homes to promote positive and supportive environments for women to discuss gender related issues, generate innovative solutions, and provide mentorship and avenues for advocacy. Dr. Birnbaumer also provides scholarships to go to the FeminEM FIX conference each year.

Wellness Reflections

Purpose: Anonymous email account where residents can submit personal essays, reflections or poetry that reflect the human experience of Harbor EM residents.
How to:

  1. Login to the email address:
  2. PW:- TheBrave18
  3. Click “Compose”
  4. To:-
  5. Subject:- Title of your submission or leave this blank
  6. Body:- your reflection OR include as attachment
  7. Sign:- anonymous or if you really want sign your name
  8. Press Send
  9. DONE!!

Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Support:

Mental Health Support

Residents at Harbor-UCLA are provided protected time to meet with a GME Clinical Psychologist for therapy and counseling as needed with referrals provided if ongoing therapy is required.

Physical Health Support

Residents are allowed protected time multiple times per year in order to attended physician/dental clinics as needed.

Multiple groups within the residency program promote exercise within the class through cycling, surfing, running, volleyball, and many others.

The resident rounding room is fully stocked (and restocked monthly) with coffee, drinks, snacks, and meals for providers throughout the day and to utilize when the cafeteria is closed.

After call shifts, when residents may be too tired to drive, they are provided reimbursement for rideshare (Uber, Lyft) rides to keep our residents safe.

Spiritual Health Support

A group of Harbor Emergency residents and faculty have taken the initiative to come together to practice and share their faith. This community has proven valuable when shift schedules preclude attending traditional services.

Academic Wellness:

Longitudinal Wellness Lecture Series

A resident-led and designed wellness lecture series is incorporated into the longitudinal conference teaching throughout the year covering important topics such as dealing with stress, mindfulness, the difficult patient, leadership, and financial stability.

Wellness Research

Harbor-UCLA Emergency Medicine has been involved in multiple wellness studies and research and is currently one of ten sites involved in an EMF Grant focused on studying the physician stressors and coping mechanisms associated with COVID-19.

DEM Wellness Faculty

Department Wellness Champion: David Burbulys,
Wellness Committee Faculty Mentor: Diane Birnbaumer,

Other Events

Consultant of the Year Award


Annual “Chili Cook Off”

Department Retreat

Each year, we have a protected, weekend long retreat at UCLA Bruin Woods Center in Lake Arrowhead. Everyone always looks forward to traditions like Slip-n-Slide Kickball and the themed costume party!

Class weekends

Once a year, each class is scheduled for an ENTIRE WEEKEND off together. Past classes have enjoyed skiing in big bear, wine tasting in Temecula, and more!

Class Retreats

Each class has a one day retreat mixing learning and socializing. The R2s attend the Base Station Physician course, the R3s complete the Neonatal Resuscitation Program, and the R4s discuss important topics such as job search and negotiations and financial planning.


The PGY4 class is scheduled off each year to attend ACEP with the faculty. This is always a great time for class bonding, networking, and investigating job opportunities!

Harbor UCLA Helping Healers Heal (H3) Program:

The mission of the H3 Program is to increase awareness of second victim syndrome, destigmatize suffering and seeking help, and provide support to staff through 1:1 peer support, group debriefs, and mental health specialists.

Well-being of Practitioners Committee, County of Los Angeles, Harbor- UCLA Medical Center

The Well-Being of Practitioners Committee, established in accordance with hospital accreditation requirements, serves to help the members of our medical community who are dealing with issues such as burnout, depression, anxiety, stress, and substance abuse. For some colleagues these issues may be interfering with their quality of life; for others, their behavior may be putting themselves and/or their patients in jeopardy. Committee members are faculty and residents from a number of different departments. Referrals are seen very quickly, with rapid assistance provided.

The primary function of the committee is to serve as an advocate for the practitioner; we have no disciplinary role. The aim is to assist our providers to be well. We hope that by recognizing problems early, before behavior impacts patient care, disciplinary or credentialing problems can be averted. Our evaluation and feedback to individuals is confidential.

Our committee does not provide direct treatment, but does provide referrals and information about community resources and venues where practitioners can receive further evaluation and treatment, if necessary. Sometimes providers have had an acute personal crisis or been involved in a hospital related event. Other times, a more chronic issue has begun to manifest itself. Over the years, many confidential referrals have been made in such instances. Another function of the committee is that occasionally, a committee member may be asked to be a part of a practitioner’s monitoring program if this is deemed appropriate (e.g. substance abuse).

We accept referrals in two ways. First, a practitioner can self refer if they feel that a problem exists or if they wish to chat about issues which might be affecting their life. Second, we can receive referrals from concerned colleagues. These calls will be held in strict confidence if that is the wish of the caller, but the caller would need to identify themselves to the committee member. Referrals can come directly to the Chair of the Committee (Ira Lesser, MD) or to any of the members.

If you have concerns about yourself or a colleague, we invite you to contact one of the members of the committee. It is our hope that we continue to keep our Harbor medical peers healthy! Please call if you have questions about any of these services offered.

Ira Lesser
Chair, Department of Psychiatry
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Professor and Vice Chair
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

GMEC Interdepartmental Resident Well-being Committee (partnered with CIR)

Current Chair: Jonathan Warren, MD (EM PGY-3)


Harbor- UCLA Graduate Medical Education (GME) Resources:

The GMEC Resident Well-Being Committee is focused on supporting resident wellness from all specialties. Recent events include Open Mic Nights to share stories and poetry, Thank a Resident Day, and coordination of ice cream socials.

At Harbor, we have a full time psychologist dedicated to supporting our housestaff. She provides short term counselling, referrals and flexible confidential appointments. Dr. Abou-Ziab has formal training in a variety of important Psychotherapeutic approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), Substance Abuse Training, Suicidal Behavior Crisis and Intervention Treatment, as well as a special interest in trauma.

Hoda Abou-Ziab, PsyD.
Director of GME Wellbeing
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
(Phone) (424) 306-6187
Harbor-UCLA Healers Helping Healers (H3) Program:
Harbor-UCLA Clinical Psychologist (Hoda Abou-Ziab, PsyD): or 424-306-6187 (Monday-Friday)
National Suicide Prevention Line (24 hrs): 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
Crisis Text Line (24 hours): Text 741-741 from anywhere in the US
Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center: 310-391-1253
California Medical Association (CMA): 213-383-2691

CIR Well-Being Resources:


Resident Bill of Rights

Annual Well Being Events: