The Resident Wellness Scale Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the Resident Wellness Scale?

The RWS is a 10-item scale empirically designed to measure a resident's wellness over the preceding 3 weeks. It was designed by GME researchers at Wayne State University and Loma Linda University in March, 2017. The scale development and initial validity data are now published:

What can I use it for?

The RWS measures resident wellness at a given timepoint. This makes it useful to measure individual residents' well-being, evaluate the impact of departmental or institutional interventions on residents' wellness, or to track changes in residents' wellness over time. The scale is positively-worded and explicitly focused on different aspects of well-being: we expect its administration itself raises awareness of resident wellness among target populations.

Although the institutional and program data is anonymous, once the resident completes it, it shows the resident his/her score, the histogram of normal responses, a little text to encourage residents to talk to their PD/DIO with questions/concerns, and a link to the ACGME resources page.

Is the RWS valid?

It asks questions only about aspects of clinical work and life during residency that residents and administrators identified as related to wellness. It correlates negatively with depression and burnout, and correlates positively with optimism and life satisfaction.

Is the RWS reliable?

It is internally consistent. We want to start testing how much it varies over time within individuals, programs, and institutions. When we have more data we will examine its factor structure to further test its reliability.

Can I use it?

Yes. We (the Wayne State University Office of Graduate Medical Education) will be improving it over the next year. We want to use as much data as possible so we want you to use the scale but asking that you do so through our web site. You can get your institution’s data through that site, and we can use that data to improve the scale.

How do I get started?

  1. Sign our Data Sharing Agreement (pdf)
  2. Get a username, password, and institution name from us
  3. Distribute the URL to your residents, tell them to select your institution name when they fill it out
  4. Log on whenever you want to download your data

What is the Data Sharing Agreement?

We worked with our business office to create an official agreement (pdf) that 1) allows you use the scale at no cost and 2) allows us to use your institution’s data to improve the scale, and 3) protects you and your residents from misuse of data from your institution. It is a legal document so it looks intimidating, but it sets ground rules that let us give the scale out for free and ensure we’ll use your data responsibly.

Will you publish how well or unwell my residents are?

No. We won’t ever publish your institution’s mean score with your institution’s name. Ever. We will be looking at variance between institutions, so we will likely publish a global finding such as “institution accounted for 22% of variance in resident wellness with estimated mean wellness scores ranging from 3.11 to 4.62.” That sort of thing.

What will Wayne State do with the data?

You can review our research protocol given educational exemption by our IRB. That is our plan for these data.

How can I see or complete the scale?

Anyone can complete the scale by going to this website:

How do I get my data?

We will give you a username and password. Then you can go to this web page to get your data:

Enter your username and password and you will be able to see all the data from your institution and download it into a text file suitable for importing into Excel or SPSS or whatever program you like.

How do I score the RWS?

The mean of all 10 items is the wellness score. Based on our research so far, we expect most residents to have a score between 2.5 and 4.5. We need more data from more institutions to determine what normal and abnormal scores are.

Do I need IRB approval to participate?

Ask your institution's IRB office. According to the law, you don’t need IRB approval if you are only using the RWS for program evaluation or educational assessment. If you plan to use the scale to conduct research, you’ll need at least a formal IRB exemption and possibly a review of your research protocol. So ask them. Our end is covered by our IRB: we have approval to use all collected data to refine the tool.

What’s in it for me?

You get to use an empirically-derived scale built on solid psychometric grounds to help you comply with new ACGME requirements to monitor your residents’ wellness. By using the RWS, you will signal to your residents that you value their wellness, not just their lack of burnout. You will contribute to the refinement of the instrument itself in the process.

What’s in it for the Wayne State University Office of Graduate Medical Education?

We want residents develop professionally without becoming overwhelmed and undernourished. We believe residents cannot become effective clinicians if they themselves are becoming unwell. The RWS is a small part of our initiative to improve resident wellness and to share our findings with the larger GME community.