VCH-wide physician wellness survey launches May 1

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When the Vancouver Physician Staff Association (VPSA) and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) launch their collaborative physician wellness survey on May 1, there are many reasons to make sure your voice is heard. One of the most important is for VPSA and VCH to learn where the issues are, and what needs to be addressed. VPSA engages with our health authority on an ongoing basis and the survey results will inform these discussions.

“The results of the survey will direct wellness priorities for senior leadership and our physician staff association in the years to come,” said VPSA President Dr. Ka Wai Cheung. “Whether you are from a big department, a small division, community-based or hospital-based, we want to hear from you.”

Examples of wellness funding initiatives

VPSA has long recognized the significance of burnout to health-care professionals and its impact on patient care. The organization is working to reduce burnout through various initiatives including funding wellness champions from areas that the 2020 wellness survey identified as having a notable burnout rate.

In 2023/24 wellness funding was allocated to Infectious Diseases, Hospitalists, Internal Medicine, Family and Community Practice, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesia, and Radiology. Champions for these specialties have used their funding for a wide variety of activities from commensality groups to paying for physician time to attend meetings.

Strategic planning has been a focus for Infectious Diseases wellness champion Dr. Allison Mah.

“We used our prior funding to support physician group member attendance at our strategic planning meetings. The purpose of this work is to define our division’s vision, mission, and values and to advance shared goals and improve workflows and processes,” said Dr. Mah. “We extended this work into 2023/24 and have held three meetings to work through our draft governance document. We’re grateful to have had funding from VPSA to support physician time working on identified workflow and process changes that don’t have protected time to be attended to.”

Three physicians champion our Hospitalists’ wellness funded activities: Drs. Faye Chow, Claire Sakiyama, and Christina Weisstock.

“We’ve held commensality group dinners as well as wellness activities on a monthly basis,” said Dr. Chow. “We hosted a well-received Christmas party last December and are currently planning a spring barbecue. We order in snacks for our office on a regular basis, which are really appreciated, and we also hosted a Hospitalist Unit Coffee Break event in October, which was a teambuilding opportunity for the unit’s physicians, nurses, and allied staff. It was a great chance to bond with our valued non-physician colleagues. We followed this up last month with a group exercise class that was funded by the Hospitalist Association.”

Dr. Lawrence Chow has been the point person for Internal Medicine.

“We started a new initiative this year that has been extremely well-received by our division,” he said. “While we have many educational rounds on CTU, we did not have a protected space for attendings only; so now, every two weeks, our group meets over lunch to discuss challenging active cases that we are managing. These range from diagnostic dilemmas to moral and ethical challenges. The regular meetings provide a safe space to receive needed support, reduce feelings of isolation, pass down wisdom from more experienced colleagues, and build camaraderie in our division. The attendance and feedback for these sessions has been phenomenal.”

Drs. Zafrina Poonja and Ariana Murata are the wellness champions for Emergency Medicine. In 2023/24 they used  their allocated funds to start a commensality lunch, offer a wellness workshop, and organize a winter snowshoe activity.

“Our first commensality group met in September, with lunch preceded by a forest bathing exercise in Stanley Park,” said Dr. Poonja. “Since then, we’ve held two other lunches. Dr. Maureen Mayhew facilitated a valuable wellness workshop for us in January with the focus on grief, loss, and post-traumatic growth. We’re now supporting a departmental retreat for later this month that will focus on physician well-being and departmental wellness.”

Anesthesia launched a department commensality group recently.

“Everyone who attended really enjoyed it and we had very good feedback,” said department wellness champion Dr. Asim Iqbal. “We’re now in the early planning stages for a wellness speaker event.”

“We encourage each department and division that we support to use the funds in ways that are meaningful to them,” added Dr. Cheung. “By participating in the upcoming 2024 wellness survey, we’ll get a better understanding of your most pressing concerns. We’ll use the results to continue to develop interventions to address your burnout and to increase your well-being.”

The 2024 wellness survey will launch May 1, is completely anonymous, and will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Keep an eye out for your weekly VMDAS/VPSA Checkup newsletter for details. Each week participants will have a chance to enter to win Apple AirPods, iPads, or one of 50 $20 Amazon gift cards.

Top photo: Attending rounds: a safe space to discuss challenging cases, support one another, and build camaraderie in the Internal Medicine division.

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