Ready, set, race: The Medicine in Motion team – which includes MGH staff – at the Buzzards Bay Triathlon.

In the early morning hours of Sept. 15, neonatologist Michael Prendergast, MD, finished an overnight shift in the MGHfC neonatal intensive care unit, jumped into a waiting car and headed to the Buzzards Bay Triathlon, where he took first place honors in his age group – and secured an 11th place overall title – in the 1/3-mile swim, 14-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run.

“Changing from my scrubs into my triathlon suit, I essentially switched from being part of one extraordinary MGH team – who care for patients, families and each other – to joining an equally impressive group of MGH students, residents and attendings who are members of the Medicine in Motion group,” says Prendergast.

The Medicine in Motion group – comprised of medical professionals from throughout the Boston area – was established two years ago by four Harvard Medical School (HMS) students whose mission was to address medical burnout through fitness, community building and philanthropy. Last summer, it was designated as a national nonprofit and was given the 2019 HMS Dean’s Community Service Award.

“We want people to really focus on their own wellness and fitness because you have to take care of yourself so you can do what’s best for your patients,” says Logan Briggs, a third-year resident and co-founder of Medicine in Motion, who placed first in his age group and took third place overall honors in the event. “We strive to incorporate people from all different areas of the hospital – not just physicians – because an interdisciplinary culture will facilitate better relationships with staff and ultimately better patient care. Meeting new people also is such an important part of the human psyche, and it’s another great way to address burnout.”

Briggs and Prendergast were two the 36 Medicine in Motion teammates who competed in last month’s triathlon, a group that also included some potential future members. Noelle Saillant, MD, of the Department of Surgery, finished a 24-hour trauma surgery shift before tackling the running leg of the triathlon relay – all while six months pregnant and pushing her 4-year-old son in a stroller. “She was literally carrying three people!” Briggs says. “We gave her the ‘Put your Team on your Back Award.’”

Briggs also credits fellow medical students Chase Marso, Mike Seward, Derek Soled and Cray Noah with helping to organize and coordinate the events. The group is open to people of all athletic abilities – from entry-level newcomers to seasoned competitors, Briggs says. And, it complements the work of the newly established MGH Center for Physician Well-being – launched last June – which promotes a culture of well-being and professional fulfillment.

“The MGH is a leader in so many things, and physician burnout is an important topic of conversation,” Briggs says. “It’s so important to keep your fitness level up and get your mind off all the stress and responsibility that goes along with a career in medicine. We’re hoping to spread that mindset and we’d love for more people to join us.”

For more information about Medicine in Motion, visit https://medmotion.org/.