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Grief Support and Education for Medical Professionals

Serving medical students and residents through patient-related grief

Since March 2024, Calm Waters provides Grief Support Groups to medical residents at OU College of Medicine, as well as Grief Education Workshops to medical students. 

Bailey Maxey and Heather Gaglio, LMFT at Workshop

Faculty at OU College of Medicine approached Calm Waters about creating and providing a mental health service for their trainees after they recognized the need for grief support, as well as grief education. These students and residents were witnessing loss of life from a vantage point they had never before encountered. The expectation that each trainee was to go from one patient’s death to the bedside of another patient was at a detriment to their mental health.

In a partnership, OU College of Medicine and Calm Waters created a custom curriculum designed to support medical students and residents through their own grief, as well as provide education to empower these trainees to be the compassionate support their patients need and deserve.

“The current generation of medical students and residents are no longer willing to simply push forward, but request support to help them continue through their program whilst experiencing high levels of stress and/or trauma.”
– Dr. Katie Smith, OB/GYN, OU College of Medicine

Grief-Sensitivity Education is provided for each medical student at OU College of Medicine. In 3 annual workshops, students receive research-based psychoeducation related to grief. Additionally, they learn how to support someone through a loss, deliver sensitive information to patients and their families, and how to balance their physician responsibilities with empathy and compassion.

Grief Support Groups are provided for each resident at OU College of Medicine. There are three series annually, each consisting of nine weekly sessions. In sessions, medical residents have a confidential place to discuss their grief relating to patient losses, support their peers through traumatic outcomes, and feel empowered to continue practicing medicine.


We are grateful to be the recipients of a 2023 United Way WayFinder Innovation Grant. Thanks to the support of the United Way of Central Oklahoma, as well as the confidence in our program by the WayFinder Innovation Grant committee, we are able to serve these individuals.


In studies of the impact of grief support on medical providers, participants reported increased comfort levels in having conversations with patients and families about grief and loss, as well as enhanced knowledge on the importance of effective communication. Participants in this type of grief support and training also reported gaining a more profound understanding of their personal attitudes and beliefs on death and dying, which led to a more compassionate level of care. In a study evaluating the effectiveness of one hospital-based grief support group, participants described multiple benefits, including “being able to grieve more effectively, accessing support, and learning new tools for healing and self-care. Participants described the workshop experience as unique, cathartic, and life -changing”.

In the News

The Journal Record
United Way Announces WayFinder Grants

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Grief Support and Education for Medical Professionals Program