Attendees at International Conference on Physician Health have been talking the talk about the importance of taking some time from their hectic careers to appreciate the simple things. But will they walk the walk?
That’s the spirit behind Walk the Doc, organised walks at times scheduled during the conference to allow groups of attendees to relax and chat with a pleasant stroll around the city.
There are also health sessions on mindfulness meditation, and mutual help meetings. The BMA’s very own (and very good sport) Tom Rapanakis of the Doctors for Doctors unit was spotted in front of the Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal, wearing what the Québécois would call a ‘tuque’ (pronounce Tooke)
Also spotted on the Walk the Doc was University of Calgary resident wellness chair for postgraduate medical education Joan Horton.
The clinical assistant professor, has been examining issues of how to build resilience among doctors-in-training (they are called residents in Canada). In May and June, she did a brief 90-second survey of 716 residents, which yielded 340 responses, asking questions about their degree of wellness.
She says around 50 per cent reported they were feeling burnout ‘somewhat’ or more.
One idea is to introduce mindfulness meditation — focused breathing techniques — into training to help cope with stress.
She asks: ‘Have you ever heard of the Institute of HeartMath?’
Nope, sounds like a new club in the West End of London, methinks. Actually, it is a non-profit research and education organisation that offers tools to reduce stress and self-regulate emotions.
She says some residents work 80 hours a week or more. That’s when I mention the European Working Time Directive’s 48-hour week. Perhaps Alberta would like to join the EU?
Mike Foster is a writer for BMA News
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