Small Steps, Big Idea funding paves way for project successes

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The Small Steps, Big Idea initiative provides funding for VPSA members to develop concepts that engage physicians and their colleagues, improve patient care, develop better communication, and/or build relationships across specialties, departments, health authority leadership, and community members. Funding can be used for sessional payments, meals, venue costs, and/or speaker or consultant fees.

Three projects conducted over the 2022/23 fiscal year serve as inspirational examples.

Anesthesiologist Dr. Himat Vaghadia led a project to establish a Sustainable Anesthesia For the Environment (SAFE) Committee at Vancouver Acute. The group, which included five other staff anesthesiologists and VCH’s Regional Medical Director for Planetary Health, Dr. Andrea MacNeill, wanted to identify, prioritize, and initiate changes to reduce the environmental impact of the Anesthesia Department and operating room practices.

“Our project met with great success,” said Dr. Vaghadia. “Desflurane has been withdrawn from the hospital formulary and nitrous oxide has been removed from the hospital manifold system. Anesthesia circuits are now replaced weekly rather than daily, resulting in a five-fold decrease in plastic waste. We’ve implemented a total intravenous program to promote a migration to greener anesthesia practices and we’ve also established environmental focus groups in the OR to promote safe environmental practices.”

 Dr. Vaghadia noted that Small Steps, Big Idea funding was crucial to the committee achieving its goals and that the group intends to re-apply for further funding so it can continue its work.

(Dr. Vaghadia’s SAFE Committee was featured in a recent Greencare post. Greencare is BC’s health-care network for environmentally sustainable and resilient care.)

Otolaryngology Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Amanda Hu’s project was to create a sustainable network among female ENT and thoracic surgeons and trainees to share experiences as women in surgery while supporting professional development. With VPSA funding, Dr. Hu was able to organize two meetings. At the first, nine people gathered to review journal articles on gender pay inequity; at the second, 17 physicians met to review journal articles on misidentification as a microaggression.

“The initiative generated momentum, and, for the second meeting, we had attendees from the community outside of Vancouver including women from Burnaby, Richmond and even Nanaimo (via Zoom),” recalled Dr. Hu. “Everyone felt they were in a safe space to share their lived experiences with gender disparity and implicit biases in our specialty areas. The meetings fostered comradery, physician wellness, and built relationships between those taking part. People have been asking when our next meeting will be.”

Dr. Hu and her colleagues are considering applying for additional funding. She appreciated the administrative support provided by VPSA that saved her time and allowed her to focus on the bigger picture.

Dr. Jessica Moe has used Small Steps, Big Idea funding for two phases of her project entitled Understanding Healthcare Provider and Patient Experiences with Emergency Department Suboxone. The latest funding was used to build on the enthusiasm and momentum built during the launch of the VGH Emergency Department’s Suboxone program in 2019.

“We were a multidisciplinary team, and we developed an iterative, concerted engagement plan,” said Dr. Moe. “During activities, we intentionally incorporated opportunities for clinicians to provide feedback about our Suboxone program. We then incorporated this feedback into the next rounds of engagement activities to ensure we were continually responsive to providers’ needs.”

Dr. Moe and her colleagues are proud to have met their program objectives and desired outcomes. They attribute their success to intentionally incorporating multidisciplinary feedback into their program processes, and their flexibility to adapt to identified needs.

“My team and I are incredibly grateful for VPSA’s support, which enabled this important work,” said Dr. Moe. “We’re currently building capacity in our health-care provider group to take shared ownership of our Suboxone program and drive and shape it into the future. We continue to advocate for more institutional and regional support of our program at meetings that include VGH and VCH leadership to enable our continuation beyond the project period.”

Do you have a big idea that needs funding? Check out our criteria and apply. Upcoming application deadlines are May 31 and July 31, 2023.

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