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From Surviving to Thriving: Using a Growth Mindset to Foster Resilience and Wellness on Internship

Published on Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Our next virtual conference webinar is scheduled for Friday, July 30, 2021 at 1P PST/3P CST/4P EST. We invite you to join our training colleagues: Shona Vas, Ph.D., University of Chicago, Fabiana Souza Araujo, Ph.D., University of Chicago Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, and Christian F. Mauro, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center who will present: From Surviving to Thriving: Using a Growth Mindset to Foster Resilience and Wellness on Internship

For more details about the program, please see below. You may access the Conference Webinar Series and other APPIC events on our calendar webpage.  Continuing Education credit will be available to registered participants at the live webinar only. Participants must register for CE 48 hours in advance no later than Wednesday, July 28 using this link Registration.  This webinar will not be not be recorded at the request of the presenters.

Presentation Abstract:

Internship is hard! Interns consider this experience to be the capstone of their graduate education, yet often find themselves feeling insecure and questioning their own skills at the beginning of the training year.  Similar to medical residency, interns face a host of new challenges that could potentially trigger feelings of shame and burnout (Bynum et al., 2019).  Developmental challenges include more clinical activity than ever before, more daily structure, having multiple supervisors simultaneously, and balancing the need to seek assistance with the presentation of clinical competence.  Interns are learning new skills and receiving frequent feedback, uncovering knowledge deficits, and comparing themselves to an entirely new peer group.  In addition to these professional challenges, personal stresses may include moving away from their support system, feeling disconnected from existing peers and their research lab, establishing a new life and professional identity, and tolerating the uncertainly about the next steps upon completion of the graduate degree. Training directors may fail to recognize the cumulative impact of these professional and personal trials on our interns. Our academic health center internship programs have developed independent innovative initiatives to address the developmental challenges of internship. We will review the rationale for these programs, describe their implementation, and share our experiences.

At Duke University Medical Center, the internship program explicitly focuses on the development of a “growth mindset” in order to cultivate resiliency, normalize feelings of shame in learning, and instill values of life-long learning.  Dweck’s (2006) research demonstrates that a “growth mindset” is one that embraces challenges, learns from constructive criticism, and focuses on effort.  A faculty-wide training and retreat led to specific efforts to embrace this mindset to enhance resilience and wellness within our program.  Specific actions include watching Dweck’s TED talk on the first day of orientation; changing PWC evaluation anchors to focus on growth and development rather than performance and comparison; and seminars focusing on shame resilience and coping strategies for the “imposter syndrome.”  Other programmatic efforts will be described and intern perception and satisfaction will be described.

At The University of Chicago Medical Center, we have been extending the growing body of literature designed to enhance resilience in health care providers to our interns. To this end, our program is based on the research findings regarding (1) the utility of mindfulness training to address burnout among health care providers (Lomas et al., 2019); (2) the impact of positive neuroplasticity on resiliency (Hanson, 2013; Hanson & Hanson, 2018). During orientation, interns receive a structured 8-week mindfulness-based resilience course to increase awareness of the present moment, self-compassion, and group cohesion.  This initial phase is followed by booster mindfulness and self-compassion sessions and experiential activities selected by the interns aiming to provide space for the cultivation of gratitude, celebration of success, appreciation of diversity, team building activities, off campus social and cultural events, building networks of support and mentorship, and seeking a value-driven career. Challenges and benefits of this program will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Recognize developmental challenges experienced by many psychology interns with specific application to their own sites.
  2. Describe the implementation of two new initiatives to foster growth and resilience during internship training.
  3. List interventions that may be implemented in their own training programs and evaluate their feasibility by considering available data.


Bynum, W. E., Artino, A. R., Uijtdehaage, S., Webb, A. M. B., & Varpio, L. (2019). Sentinel emotional events: The nature, triggers, and effects of shame experiences in medical residents.

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY, US: Random House. 

Hanson, R. (2013). Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence. New York: Random House.

Hanson, R. & Hanson, F. (2018). Resilient: How to grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness. New York: Harmony Books. 

Lomas, T., Medina, J.C., Ivtzan, I., Rupprecht, S., and Eiroa-Orosa, F.J. (2019). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of mindfulness-based interventions on the well-being of healthcare professionals. Mindfulness, 10, 1193-1216.

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