Lauren Bojarski, DO, joined the UK College of Medicine as a neurology resident in 2020, just as COVID-19 began to spread across the U.S. 

“I started my very first day learning how to gown up with personal protective equipment (PPE), which I was not expecting,” said Dr. Bojarski. “But once I met my co-residents and the attendings, I felt more at ease.” 

For Dr. Bojarski, like many others, working in health care during such unprecedented times was incredibly difficult. But the unwavering support from her team helped her through it. As a first-generation college student, she found the support to be vital. 

“The sheer amount of death and sickness we were seeing at the beginning of the pandemic, it was just so hard for me,” she shared. “I was not handling it well at all, but my team— my attendings, my co-residents, my senior resident— they all came to me and said, you need to figure this out, go talk to someone and get the help you need.”

Dr. Bojarski found support and encouragement through the Lexington Medical Society’s Physician Wellness Program, which offers eight free sessions per year with counselors trained to treat medical providers. This service is available to College of Medicine learners, including graduate students, medical students, residents, and fellows. Recognizing the positive impact of counseling on her own well-being, she has made it her mission to advocate for the well-being of her peers as well. 

After spearheading several wellness initiatives within her department as a member of its wellness committee, Dr. Bojarski sought to have a larger impact. She joined the college’s Graduate Medical Education (GME) Committee, as well as the GME Resident and Fellows Forum and its Wellness in Training Subcommittee, to advocate for residents and their well-being across the enterprise. 

Dr. Bojarski is particularly proud of two GME projects she worked on during her residency. The first, a Virtual Neurology Handbook, created with co-resident Patricia Olson, MD, serves as a defacto guide for neurology residents. It’s filled with practical information like how to contact radiology to read an MRI, how to order tests that would track atrial fibrillation in someone who has had a stroke, and even advice from past residents on navigating day-to-day life in health care and the unspoken subtleties of patient care. 

The second project, which earned her the 2023 Rising Star Award from Women in Medicine and Science (WIMS), evaluated well-being surveys administered by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Her research compared the validity of ACGME surveys against well-known queries like the Maslach Burnout Inventory, finding that ACGME surveys may not be providing the most accurate data on resident well-being. Impressed by her work in the wellness space, several colleagues nominated Dr. Bojarski for the award. On winning, she shared “I didn’t expect it, but it made me feel so loved. I felt the support from UK and my department so strongly; it is a memory I will hold on to forever.” 

Last year, Dr. Bojarski also developed a grand rounds presentation on wellness and burnout that gained a lot of popularity. After delivering the presentation to the neurology department, she was asked to share it with other clinical departments at UK HealthCare, as well as with an international audience at the most recent American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting.

Dr. Bojarski earned her undergraduate degree in neurology and has been involved with the AAN since medical school. Early on, she became involved in their medical education and advocacy programs and worked to dispel neurophobia and encourage other students to pursue future careers in neurology. 

An AAN annual meeting is also where she first met UK residents and learned about residency opportunities available at the UK College of Medicine.

“At every AAN meeting, I was always impressed with how much UK Neurology was doing and how fun the residents were,” said Bojarski. “And when it came time to interview for residency, it felt the same. I just felt very much at home here. UK was always at the top of my list.” 

And she isn’t ready to say goodbye to Lexington just yet. Next year, Dr. Bojarski will complete a geriatric neurology fellowship at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. In the future, she hopes to practice general neurology because she “loves every part of neurology” and doesn’t want to limit herself to just one subspecialty. 

“I’m looking forward to continuing my advocacy work in the future, with residents, but also with medical students and attendings” shared Dr. Bojarski. “I want to continue with this momentum even after I graduate residency, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of everyone I’ve encountered along the way. Everyone here has been so helpful, and if I had to do it all over again, I still would pick UK.”

The University of Kentucky Graduate Medical Education is devoted to promoting the wellness of our residents and fellows.