Like all physicians, pediatricians face burnout issues, and sometimes struggle to feel connected with colleagues and administration. These stresses can be exacerbated by complex practices involving young high-needs patients. Pediatricians Jennifer Balfour and Lauren Kitney felt that they and their pediatric colleagues could benefit from an opportunity to step-back, assess how they could better manage the challenges of their jobs, and receive some training in non-clinical skills from experts in mindfulness, resilience, and burnout.
With the grant, they organized two events: the first, an interactive, practical workshop led by mindfulness expert Dr. Mark Sherman, during which pediatricians were encouraged to discuss strategies to feel connected to their patients, preserve their sense of humanity and compassion, and feel effective in their jobs. The second event was an evening gathering with neuroscientist Dr. Paul Mohapel to speak about distractability, screens, and burnout in order to guide discussion about where people were becoming depleted in their daily professional routines.
As a result of these events, participants report a greater overall sense of wellness, team spirit and cohesiveness within the group, as well as greater self-knowledge around “Why am I feeling this way?” ‘what can I do differently?’ They have used the concepts of mindfulness and distractability to refine their design of patient rounds, determine how to better share the burden of work, and choose some rules of communication with each other. Since these events, participants report that there is a palpable sense that the group could “get things done”. Dr. Balfour stated that “this funding connected us so we could tackle some other issues”. Seeing the success of Dr. Balfour and Dr. Kitney’s project, several members have put forth their own projects to the South Island Medical Staff Association for consideration.