Dialogue Volume 13 Issue 4 2017 - Page 5

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT Dear Colleagues: T David Rouselle, College President I think we can all be more sensitive to each other’s burdens and reach out and offer support he College exists to pro- mote patient safety and the undeniable fact is, the safety of patients is at risk when the physicians treating them are suffering burnout. At our most recent Council meet- ing, we invited Dr. Joy Albuquerque, medical director of the OMA’s Phy- sician Health Program, to talk to us about how her program ensures that physicians get the care they need when they feel overwhelmed by the challenges presented to them. She explained that physicians – especially younger physicians – ap- pear to be experiencing stress, and burnout in unprecedented num- bers. Residents, she said, were the fastest growing group of doctors to pick up the phone and ask for help from the PHP. Dr. Albuquerque put forward a number of theories for the increase in the number of calls to the PHP: advances in technology have seen the practise of medicine become much more complex; the push for transparency has led to a blurring of the line between a physician’s professional and personal life; and significantly, younger doctors have become more comfortable reaching out for help. As I stated in my previous letter, the issue of physician burnout is a matter that we take very seriously. The College has a long history of partnering with the staff at PHP to ensure that physicians at risk get the help they need. While the OMA and the College have different missions, we both share the goal of having a system full of healthy doctors, which by extension, will lead to improved care and safer patients. Usually the workplace is the last place where distress and impair- ment shows, so I would ask my colleagues to take very seriously even minor, persistent changes in a peer’s behavior. The key to recognition of a problem, said Dr. Albuquerque, is knowing the performance baseline from which a person normally func- tions. Physicians should ask after their colleague’s well-being if they seem to be performing below their usual standard. The practice of medicine can be difficult. But I think we can all be more sensitive to each other’s burdens and reach out and offer support whenever we feel something may be amiss. And if you, yourself, feel disengaged and overwhelmed, I urge you to ask for help. It is closer at hand than you may think. ISSUE 4, 2017 DIALOGUE 5