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Burnout impacting health-care professionals globally, experts tell Kelowna, B.C. event

Click to play video: 'VJH Physician Society hosts healthcare burnout conference'
VJH Physician Society hosts healthcare burnout conference
WATCH: A group of experts addressed health-care workers and physicians in Kelowna on Friday, to discuss the causes of burnout in the workplace and how to take better care of themselves and their patients when the feeling of burnout sets in. Jayden Wasney reports. – Oct 21, 2022

A group of experts addressed a room full of health-care workers and physicians in Kelowna, B.C., on Friday, to discuss the causes of burnout in the workplace and how to take better care of themselves and their patients when the feeling of burnout sets in.

“We’ve got workshops on resiliency, and a workshop called civility CPR, which enables people to look at how they deal with incivility in the workplace and how they can take personal actions that lead to organizational change,” explained Vernon Jubilee Hospital Physician Society program director, Sharon Hughes-Geekie.

In many ways, health-care professionals are the heart and soul of their communities. Since the beginning of COVID, many of them have been overworked, and in some instances, they have felt underappreciated. This has led to burnout across the world for many health-care workers.

“Burnout is reaching close to 50 per cent of physicians, that’s a huge number,” said North Okanagan senior medical director, Dr. Andrew Sellars.

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“One of the numbers that was discussed this morning was that over 80 per cent of workers across the board are feeling that psychological safety is at an all-time high as a risk factor and we know that that’s a huge risk for burnout.”

Sellars added that he feels these types of events are needed, and that he enjoys taking part in them.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for physicians across the Okanagan to help connect and to address some of the ongoing concerns that we have in system and the challenges we face,” said Sellars.

One North Okanagan lab director says after witnessing his staff members being mistreated by patients, that’s when he decided to step in.

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“We we’re getting reports of incivility — that is to say, mild to moderate forms of rudeness — on a sometimes-daily basis, and one in particular was the one that spurred me on, and I said, ‘I, as the head of the department, can’t stand by and be seen to do nothing,’” said Vernon Jubilee Hospital general pathologist, Yann Brierley.

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Brierly created his own workplace initiative at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital with his lab staff, called ‘Us Care,’ in an attempt to try and curb the feeling of burnout.

“We’re doing weekly sessions with a civility expert, her name’s Faith Wood, and she just sits down, and we have chats about what people are experiencing, and even what’s happening in their personal lives and then recognizing that that can really colour how they show up at work,” said Brierley.

While addressing burnout in health care settings is a positive, according to Sellars, the public also plays a critical role.

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“The public has a significant impact in this,” described Sellars.

“We’re working together to maintain civility and to improve how we talk to each other in the workplace, and it’s super important that we share that civility with the patients we support, but also for the public to be aware of their role in improving the situation in hospitals.”

Friday’s conference, organized by the VJH Physician Society, was the first in its history, but the group intends on making it an annual event.

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