For me, 2017 was a year of reflection, discovery and action. I had been working quite a lot in the wellbeing space. I was researching and experimenting with different wellbeing strategies in order to develop a wellness program for students and interns at Toowoomba Hospital – to support them in their transition to practice and reduce the stress as they commence work as a doctor.
Through the media there has been heightened awareness and concern about junior doctor burnout, stress and suicide. In fact there is global recognition of burnout happening not only in healthcare but all sectors. Major corporations such as Google, Nike, Microsoft and Apple are addressing these issues by incorporating mindfulness into their staff wellbeing packages. An ever-growing number of blogs and podcasts discuss wellbeing, resilience and peak performance. Scientific studies confirm the effect of what we eat, how active we are, and how much we meditate on brain function and overall vitality.
I must admit I was influenced by these findings and felt there must be a way that I could contribute to our doctors’ development by promoting the benefits of self care and techniques such as mindfulness to improve performance and reduce stress.
It was at this time that I was approached by Una Harrington to join her group of WRaP EMers – doing exactly what I was hoping to do but on a much larger scale. I was exhilarated with the potential of this. They were developing a whole curriculum around wellness. As a teacher by practice, this appeared to be a perfect solution: assisting clinician educators and ensuring that they had access to materials that could be easily modified and adopted for all health professionals, regardless of discipline or experience level.
I was humbled and in awe of this group of ED doctors and nurses who were so committed to the development and wellbeing of healthcare professionals in all settings and workspaces, and I felt immediately as if kindred spirits were meeting; those with a similar life philosophy and united by a single mission.
While WRaPEM’s focus was on ED doctors, mine was on medical students and junior doctors and so we complemented each other’s efforts seamlessly. The consistent goals we wanted to achieve were the encouragement and tools to better their personal and professional lives. And we are well on our way!