“Medicine is a team sport”

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Every few months, physicians who have been identified as wellness champions for their departments or divisions gather to share updates on their VPSA-funded projects. The meetings, which are hosted by the VA/VC Physician Wellness Steering Committee, also feature presentations. In May, Dr. Colin West, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Program on Physician Well-Being, was the guest speaker. For his talk to our wellness champions, Dr. West focused on the Mayo Clinic’s COMPASS (COlleagues Meeting to Promote and Sustain Satisfaction) groups and the ways these have improved community connectivity at work.

The Mayo Clinic launched COMPASS groups in late 2015. Physicians and scientists meet in groups of six to 10 people every other week for an hour over breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any other time of their choosing. They spend at least 15 minutes discussing an assigned topic such as finding meaning in work and job satisfaction, or teamwork and work-life balance and integration. The groups meet for six months, at which time participants can choose to stay with the same group or join another. Some groups’ members work in the same area; others are a diverse mix of specialties.

“More than 50 per cent of our physicians and scientists have been part of at least one group and most re-up after six months,” said Dr. West. “The groups would be even more impactful if participation was extended to nurses and other health-care workers. That’s important as we all need to work together. Medicine is a team sport.”

VPSA’s Community Building and Wellness Task Force offers regular commensality meetings modelled on the Mayo Clinic’s COMPASS groups and several of the groups receiving wellness funding are also instituting similar groups. Dr. West fielded several questions from the wellness champions about best practices.

“Many people don’t realize how isolated they’ve become,” said Dr. West when asked how COMPASS groups help with burnout. “When they realize they have friends and colleagues who share the same stresses, there’s a sense of connectedness.”

The ultimate aim of the groups is to improve patient care by promoting physician well-being and reducing physician distress.

“Healthier physicians can provide better care and communicate more effectively,” said Dr. West.

If you’re interested in participating in a commensality group, keep your eye on the weekly VPSA Checkup where regular dinner groups are announced.

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