There are few opportunities in the course of providing ongoing patient care to step back, identify successes as well as areas for improvement, and develop strategies to meet new challenges with colleagues. The South Island gastroenterologists, led by Dr. Andrew Singh, identified the need for an organized forum, separate from divisional meetings, to address current and future issues relating to the provision of GI care in the region. They sought a grant from the South Island MSA’s Facility Engagement funding to support a gathering of physicians and allied health care providers from gastroenterology, endoscopy, psychiatry, social work, nursing, and dietetics.
Over the course of two extended evening meetings, the group came together to collaborate and problem solve around a variety of challenges, including recruitment needs for various GI subspecialties, how to accommodate the growing needs of complex GI patients, how to provide a robust educational experience for medical students and residents, and how to integrate ancillary specialties into the GI group such as psychiatry, psychology, social work, and nurse consultants.
Facilitated by the Division Head, Dr. Iman Zandieh, these meetings created opportunities to bring about tangible changes in collaboration and practice, such as the development of an Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) Rapid Access clinic with nursing support, a plan to streamline the GI access and triage process, and a framework for shared care with ancillary specialties. The group expressed eagerness for more frequent and regular meetings of this type. One participant stated, “There is so much patient care on the forefront of everyone’s time that big picture discussions often get pushed to the back burner. This was a great opportunity to assess needs, re-align strategies, and increase group cohesion”.
When asked what advice they could provide to other departments wanting to gather together in this way, the project leads offered three recommendations: 1) Ensure there is ample time to discuss the topics, 2) Agree in advance on the scope of the topics in a collaborative fashion to keep the discussion focused and 3) Have all the data required to help the group answer any questions that might arise.
Congratulations to the group on initiating these meetings and all the great outcomes that arose from them!