Applying Applying Human-Centered Design to Wellness Events in Graduate Medical Education

Serena Chen, MD

VA Boston Healthcare System – Resident

Scientific Abstract


Human-centered design (HCD) is a method of designing that focuses on understanding human needs and adapting the design in response to these needs

HCD has been increasingly used for change implementation within health care due to its holistic and systemic nature as well as its humanistic focus (Melles et al 2021). Wellness interventions are increasingly topics of concern within graduate medical education. Despite the demand for wellness interventions such as wellness events in graduate medical education, there have been limited studies regarding effective implementation of these events. Covid has corresponded to increased demand for wellness events due to increased burnout.However, Covid restrictions and safety concerns also provide significant challenge for event design.


HCD process is commonly visualized by the The Double Diamond Model (Melles et al 2021). This method was applied to designing wellness event that meets residents’ needs and preferences for residents at Harvard South Shore Psychiatry Training Program. The HCD design involves 4 main activities: Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver.


HCD application was helpful in designing a successful resident retreat. With consideration of resident input, problems of burnout and disconnection were highlighted as main problems. Involvement of other stakeholders such as chief residents, program leadership, as well as the whole health medical director at the institution was instrumental in development of idea of nutritional psychiatry as a theme for the event. Residents were surveyed regarding potential event of learning to cook together in a professional kitchen and then sharing a meal

Return to previous steps as needed such as addressing issues with funding or safety, until event successfully completed using the HCD process.


Application of HCD provides potential to provide humanistic and creative solutions to resident wellness during a time of great need and limitations due to Covid restrictions. Humanistic focus allows for balance of benefits and risks based on values of the people involved to most effectively improve wellness within the changing landscape of healthcare and graduate medical education.


research Areas


Serena Z. Chen, MD

Principal Investigator

Serena Z. Chen, MD