The Global Newsletter is proud to spotlight select ACP physician well-being resources in our 2021 issues. Throughout the year, we will feature resources regarding self-care, peer support, and organizational change, as well as some of ACP's Well-being Champions. This issue features the experiences of two Well-being Champions from ACP Ontario and a theatrical performance that examines barriers to well-being.
If you happen to reside within a chapter region and are interested in getting involved with your chapter's Well-being Committee, please contact your governor.
Dr. Arielle Berger is a geriatrician at University Health Network and Sinai Health hospitals in Toronto, Canada. She went to medical school at the Tel Aviv University and completed residency in New York City at Montefiore Medical Centre and Mount Sinai Hospital. Her clinical work focuses on optimizing function and wellbeing in older adults. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto and her scholarly work is devoted to understanding and enhancing physicians' ability to show up to work “as their best selves”. She developed a longitudinal curriculum for geriatrics residents on professionalism and related competencies in 2019.
Dr. Emily Jones is a consultant physician in Internal Medicine at London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario, Canada. She focusses on the management of complex patients in inpatient medicine and opioid replacement therapy. She also practices in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, a remote area of Canada with limited physician resources. Dr. Jones has recently completed a Master's Degree in Evidence-Based Health Care at the University of Oxford, with a thesis focusing on the measurement of well-being in physicians.
In your experience, what are the causes of physician burnout and its impact on Canadian physicians' daily lives?
“While reasons for burnout may differ between individual specialties and levels of training, there are unifying and ubiquitous contributors to burnout; one of these is a lack of predictability. While this can be exciting, it can also lead to frustration and guilt. Despite your day sheet suggesting you might be done at 5:00 PM, unexpected pages, emails, requests, paperwork, or a patient crisis may derail your day completely. Instead of making it home for dinner as promised, you are at work later than anticipated and apologizing to those you made a commitment to. This creates feelings of guilt, frustration, and helplessness for the physician. The lack of predictability also negatively impacts those outside of work, leading further to physicians' emotional turmoil.
Blurred work/life boundaries also contributes to physician burnout. As a physician, you never truly seem to be “off” which is further exacerbated by modern technology. There seems to be no escape from work. I routinely ask my residents to not check the EMR after going home for their wellbeing; the request is frequently ignored. The lure of being able to “check one more thing”, “fix something”, or “finish the dictations” from home just to leave the work setting is always tempting. COVID-19 has emphasized this. Physicians have been encouraged to do more virtual care and to not come to the hospital/clinic unless absolutely necessary since the COVID-19 pandemic; thus, blurring the lines between work and life even further.” -Dr. Jones
What initially interested you in the ACP Well-being Champion program?
“In the culture when and where I trained, we were supposed to leave our “stuff” at the door; we were supposed to be anonymous doctors working selflessly on behalf of our patients. After working a few years, I felt...it was simply not possible to remove yourself and your life experiences from your doctoring, and maybe we could be better doctors if we embraced the fullness of ourselves in our careers.”- Dr. Berger
Describe your well-being training experience with ACP.
“I attended the ACP well-being champion program in 2019. It was a two-day event that really focused on talking about well-being. I learned a lot about tools and techniques that can be used to check in with my own and others' wellbeing. It was a unique opportunity to really talk about well-being in-depth with others interested in the topic. We learned that physician well-being challenges are both similar and different between countries, academic/community, and inpatient/outpatient practices. Given the inherent differences between American and Canadian health care systems, the Canadian delegates took the opportunity to meet each other and explore some unifying opportunities.” -Dr. Jones
Please share a successful program you recently executed in your chapter or residency program.
“I have been developing and executing a professionalism curriculum for geriatric medicine residents at the University of Toronto for the past few years. We've now completed our first two-year cycle of the curriculum, which included sessions on personal and professional identity, advanced communication skills, advocacy and managing challenging relationships. Integrated into all of these were opportunities for self-reflection and building community among learners and faculty.
I have used many of the coaching and positive psychology tools I learned about during my ACP Well-Being Champion training. The sessions have been exceptionally well-received with more to come in the next academic year. We are in the midst of evaluating the program's impact of the residents' professional development. Our hope is that we can equip our learner with skills to manage really challenging interpersonal situations while helping them develop fulsome professional identities aligned with their values.” -Dr. Berger
Join a Live Presentation that Examines the Challenges of Physician Mental Health with Theater and Dance
You're invited to a 90-minute, live presentation that examines the ways individual and system stressors (gender bias and expectations, mental health stigma, toxic/unsupportive work environments) threaten the well-being of health professionals.
What: Five Days to Friday: A Multimedia Performance About Current Challenges to Physician Mental Health
When: Saturday, August 21 | 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET
Following the performance, an interactive discussion will dive deeper into the issues and identify specific strategies and resources to help healthcare practitioners regain joy and purpose in their everyday practice.
Free to ACP members, save your seat today!