If you were eavesdropping on the informal chat of a room full of medical professionals, how often would the word ‘joy’ come up? While terms like ‘burnout’ and ‘overwork’ might pepper the conversation, ‘joy’ would likely be missing in action.
In order to initiate an understanding of the causes, implications and possible solutions to burnout among physicians, two joint collaborative committees of Doctors of BC and the BC government ─ the Specialist Services and Shared Care committees ─ sponsored the participation of 35 physicians in an online course called Joy in Work (JIW). The course was offered by the Institute for Health Care Improvement and ran from March to June, 2019.
The 12 week virtual course provided a framework with an understanding of the effort required to address burnout and introduce joy. The course acknowledged the breadth of burnout in the profession and introduced ways of working around the issue, both individually and collectively as a health care system. Click here to learn more about the Joy in Work framework.
Participants included physicians, medical leaders, Doctors of BC and the Canadian Medical Association staff, all of whom contributed to the richness of the discussion in a recent webinar hosted by the Specialist Services Committee around how the Joy in Work model can be implemented to improve their own workplaces.
Participating physician Dr Lawrence Yang said he had previously experienced burnout himself and finished the course convinced that joy in work needs to be explicitly addressed at every leadership table. “Doctors need to create effective networks,” said Dr Yang. “We are too fragmented. We don't know each other. We don't ask each other for help.”
Regarding the solutions offered by the course, Dr Yang said “The concept is that you’re working on a solution together after you’ve had genuine, safe conversations to determine what matters to staff.”
Dr Daisy Dulay found the course to be useful and informative. “The coursework wasn’t too arduous, a mix of reading and videos that discussed details of the Joy in Work framework with real-life examples,” she said. The beauty of starting a JIW project lies in the fact that it encourages the participation of health care professionals and leaders at different levels to work together and improve their workplace.
Dr Yang called the sponsorship of the course a fantastic start. If we do not follow through with supporting physician leadership in building safe cultures where physicians who are struggling can find low-barrier access to meaningful healing, we cannot expect our communities to experience excellent health care,” he added.
Next steps are being initiated by Drs Dulay and Yang, who will continue to lead follow up webinars with the course participants in BC. Their hope is to have meaningful discussions and encourage people to share the learnings of the course, involve key people in the discussions and to encourage sharing of the learnings in the course. “Collectively we can make a difference in improving physicians’ job experience in BC,” said Dr Dulay.
The Joy in Work course will be offered again in September 2019 and the Specialist Services and Shared Care Committees will be sponsoring physicians in British Columbia to participate. Interested physicians can register by emailing JCCtraining@doctorsofbc.ca