Inaugural Lunch and Learn puts wellness front and centre

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VPSA kicked off its new Lunch and Learn series on April 19 with Dr. Fahreen Dossa showcasing wellness activities that our Community Building & Wellness Task Group undertakes. Dr. Dossa is a member of that committee, co-chair of the VA/VC Physician Wellness Steering Committee, and—as of June 1—the VCH Interim Regional Medical Director of Wellness.

Dr. Dossa highlighted the joint VPSA/VCH wellness survey that will launch May 1 (National Physicians’ Day) and run for several weeks.

“You can’t change what you can’t measure,” she said. “This survey will provide us with local data, which is a first step towards organizational change regarding wellness.”

Dr. Dossa acknowledged that everyone knows there is a high rate of burnout among physicians and medical staff. However, the survey has been designed to identify not just levels of burnout or fulfillment but also local drivers of burnout. It recognizes that every department/division is unique and that there are distinctive pain points in each area.

“By identifying ‘pebbles in our shoes,’ we can focus efforts where it counts,” said Dr. Dossa.

VPSA’s 2020 wellness survey revealed that 51 per cent of respondents had experienced high levels of burnout; 75 per cent scored low on professional fulfillment; 54 per cent indicated their mental health had worsened since the onset of the pandemic.

VPSA was able to identify areas with notable burnout along with readiness for change. Wellness leaders came forward for a number of these departments/divisions with VPSA funding allocated to assist in wellness initiatives. VPSA encouraged these leaders to identify and use the funding in ways that were meaningful to them.

“So that we can again support action with data, we are hoping for as high a response rate as possible for the 2024 survey,” added Dr. Dossa. “We know that’s not easy in the era of survey fatigue, and this is where we hope we can work together to advocate for high survey completion rates within our respective departments and divisions. We want and deserve excellent local data on which to base our respective wellness initiatives! Whether this means a few minutes of dedicated time within department or division meetings, circulating the QR code at rounds, or asking our fellow colleagues, this survey is worth our time as the data will be used to drive action.”

VPSA will be sharing aggregate/anonymized findings with each department and division to assist them in improving their wellness. Confidentiality is paramount and only aggregate data will be shared. VCH leadership is committed to hearing the results and working together to action the data.

Dr. Dossa also spoke of the various commensality groups that receive VPSA funding. Colleagues come together for a meal and spend 15 minutes discussing a pre-set question that will prompt conversation. After this initial time, discussion can branch out to any number of topics. VPSA funded 18 such groups in 2023/24 and the Community Building & Wellness Task Group also organizes a monthly interdepartmental group.

“These are powerful sessions in a non-judgmental environment,” said Dr. Dossa. “It’s a safe space to share confidences with colleagues and get to know each other on a personal level. It builds a sense of collegiality, breaks down silos, and reduces isolation. There’s a clinical benefit too. Once you know someone personally, it’s also easier to approach them on a professional level.”

Dr. Dossa encourages members to apply when the funding opens this summer for the next set of commensality groups. VPSA provides $25 for each physician attending the meal. Sessions are held once a month over a six-month period. If you would like more information, please contact VPSA Operations Director Andrew Pinfold.

VPSA offers Lunch and Learn sessions on the third Friday of every month. Attend either in person in the VMDAS Hub for Engagement at VGH or online. Representatives from each of our task groups and committees offer short (20-30 minute) presentations about their latest initiatives and opportunities. Next up: our Projects Committee takes centre stage on May 17. Keep your eye out for your weekly Checkup newsletter for registration details.

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