Physician Wellness

Welcome to Vancouver Division’s Health & Wellness Resources for Physicians – a collection of curated tips, and selection of websites, books, podcasts and apps that has been created by Dr. Daniel Dodek, Vancouver Division Lead for Physician Health.

It’s a priority of the Vancouver Division to support our physician community in fostering an environment of health and wellness, and to ensure access to services to address any personal and professional difficulties you may be experiencing. Physician burnout is a major issue that affects a vast number of family physicians and the Division continues our work towards supporting physicians to feel valued, represented and considered. We invite you to access our resources below or please contact us for support.

Physician Health & Wellness Resources

The Division would like to acknowledge physician lead, Dr. Daniel Dodek for his ongoing commitment to bring wellness to the forefront of our communications and support. Dr. Dan writes a weekly physician wellness column to offer discussion and presentation of support centred around health and wellness.  His ‘Dr. Dan Tips‘ continue to provide comfort, reflection, and humour, through sharing an honest and relatable voice, which has become so important during this past year.

 


“My goal, as Vancouver Division Lead for Physician Health, is for family doctors in Vancouver and all communities, to feel appreciated, valued, experience joy in their work and take care of their health.”

– Dr. Daniel Dodek, Vancouver Division Lead for Physician Health

Dr. Dan Wellness Tips

Please continue to visit this page, as we regularly update to share new wellness tips and resources.

Spring is a time for renewal; a fresh start and new beginnings. This is a good time to focus on self care and ensure each and everyone of you makes the time for a review of your physical and mental health. Please make sure you make the time to check in with your own Family Doctor for either screening, preventative issues or those nagging issues. If you need a Family Doctor, please contact d4d@physicianhealth.com or 604-398-4300.”

 

“Family Doctor seeking a newly absent Hummingbird. I miss you. Even though I am married and have two teenage kids, you make me feel alive. You used to visit several times a day on my south facing porch, but you  have disappeared from my life six weeks ago. I hope I have not offended you. I have cleaned out your feeder and refilled the sweet delicious sugar water. Your four perches are sitting quietly and I feel lonely drinking my morning coffee, watching and waiting for you. I enjoy your grace, colours and swift movement.  If there are any birders out there, please help me.”

 

“I used to be really interested in painting. As a kid I even took some summer art courses and have rediscovered watercolour painting this past summer. The paintbrush allows me to quiet my mind and focus instead on colours, light and movement. Using an artist’s eye helps me look at everything around me differently. It stops me from thinking about prostate size, skin rashes and INRs. The pandemic has made me realize how important the humanities and arts are in my personal growth and wellness. Did you know, the Nobel prize winner for the discovery of insulin; Dr. Frederick Banting, was a prolific painter.”

 

“Many people are struggling with insomnia these days including myself. I often find myself waking up at 4am and not being able to fall back to sleep. Sometimes I am not thinking about anything, but other times I am thinking about a challenging clinical situation. Dr. Rob Cohen, a sleep specialist in Calgary, calls this terminal insomnia. He informed me to set up a relaxing wind down routine 30-60 minutes before bedtime in low light without a screen. In addition, he recommends going  to bed later rather than earlier to increase your homeostatic sleep pressure. Lastly, if you wake up and feel alert, leave the bedroom and do something relaxing and quiet.”

Dr. Daniel Dodek shares a collection of health & wellness resources, including websites, apps, books and podcasts

The First Step to Physician Wellness

I am excited to share an incredibly important website, physicianhealth.com. The Physician Health Program is a valuable resource for BC physicians, medical students, and residents as well as their partners and children. The program provides 24-hour access to a confidential helpline – anytime you need it – to receive support, referrals and counselling for challenges such as mental health, relationship stress and career and life transitions. I encourage all members to take the time to learn more about the Physician Health Program, please visit their website.

The Importance of Breathing

I have started to limit my reading of news and media and turn off my device at 9 pm to give my mind a break. In addition, I have recently found a simple app called Breathe by Dr. Jud. This app has one function only: a visual guide of taking in a breath where you feel the anxiety. I really like the simplicity of the app, as it only serves one purpose: focus on your inhale and exhale breath. Dr. Jud Brewer is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center and associate professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown University. Sometimes, during complicated and turbulent moments, a simple quick breathing exercise can help you feel  grounded.

What Brings you Joy in Family Medicine?

I have asked family doctors the question “What brings you joy in your work?“ These answers have helped create the word cloud seen below. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this inspiring visual. I like to review this question every week, as it helps me find an equanimity in the practice of medicine. I want to highlight two words contributed during the poll:

Wonder: Every week I am challenged by difficult situations, however many patients inspire me with their resilience. I am in awe about how they can cope with their illness.

Good News: This is one of the best parts of being a physician. Seeing and hearing the relief and happiness of a patient is wonderful. Giving bad news is very emotionally draining for me. The transmission of news to patients is a very special and powerful responsibility we have as physicians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technology ad the Doctory-Patient Relationship

I have recently started listening to an interesting and thought provoking podcast called Medicine and the Machine. It is hosted by Dr. Eric Topol and Dr. Abraham Verghese. Dr. Verghese is well known for his book, Cutting for Stone and has many articles published in the New York Times. The  first podcast takes a deep dive into how technology has interrupted the doctor-patient relationship. What ensues is a fascinating discussion on how the EMR has created a major barrier in communication with our patients and actually turned our attention into highly paid and overtrained computer clerks. They discuss different strategies to bring the humanistic side of our profession back. This podcast made me pause and feel hopeful.

Positive Psychology from the Canadian who Wrote Book of Awesome

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha.  This is one of my favourite books I have read over the past year. It is written by a Canadian who has also authored the Book of Awesome and his most recent, You are Awesome. I would categorize this book in the positive psychology genre. The Happiness Equation is full of practical advice to help you develop more joy in your life. This is achieved through applying well studied techniques such as: writing in a journal daily about a positive experience, creating a gratitude journal and making time to completely unplug from technology weekly. He writes that “to be successful in life, you must be happy first.”  

My Most Utlized App from Anxiety Canada

One of my favourite Apps and most utilized is Mindshift. I like this App since it was developed by Anxiety Canada. It is a free App but requires a sign in registration. I find I use the Mindshift App most for accessing the “Chill Zone.” This section provides guided instruction for meditation, visual imagery or calm breathing to assist me in feeling healthier and less stressed. I will also play the audio for my patients to introduce them to meditation or guide them in relaxation techniques. There is also other sections on dealing with social anxiety, perfectionism, public speaking, panic attacks and phobias.

Lessons from the Business World

I am finding myself learning helpful lessons from the business world in regards to creating a culture of workplace happiness and employee wellness. Many of these concepts can be utilized in health care. An excellent article I recommend is called Manage Your Energy Not Your Time published in the Harvard Business Review. The author states “The core problems with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource. Energy is a different story.” Despite the treadmill like day we experience in our daily work, we do have opportunities to change how we utilize our energy throughout the day. The article discusses many helpful tactics such as taking 3 minute microbreaks every 90 minutes throughout the day to refocus. The author has several suggestions for establishing daily rituals to help maintain clear and logical thinking throughout our day. Read the article to learn more.

A Personal Podcast

I have recently started listening to podcasts while driving my car. I find this more interesting than the radio and better use of my time. My new favourite podcast is Behind the Stethoscope. This is locally developed by a group of doctors who are part of MDs4wellness at Royal Columbian Hospital. It is an honest look at burnout in the medical profession. I give full kudos to the physicians who discuss dealing with their personal challenges in the hospital and home. After listening to these podcasts I felt a greater sense of attachment to my fellow physician community and I gained a few helpful strategies to deal with the daily stress of medicine. Have a look at the website for more information.

A List of My Favourite Things

I have started to compile a list, which I titled, Things I wish had been in my medical school curriculum.  At the top of the list is to read the book Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness and Humanity, by Dr. Ronald Epstein. As a professor of family medicine, psychiatry and oncology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, he provides an amazing discussion on how to maintain the compassionate attitude throughout our career.  The core of the book discusses mindfulness techniques that are evidence based. This book has helped me to improve my resilience and to remain present at the patient bedside, and provided tools which support me to stay focused on the things that I can control and not get bogged down by the big system issues that seem overwhelming. One of my favourite strategies from the book states “research shows that if physicians spend even 20 percent of their work time in the activities that they regard as the most meaningful, they’re much less likely to be burned out, meaning that they’re more able to tolerate the difficult moments”. This book is a must read for all physicians.

Physician Health Program – 24/7 support for physicians and their families

Physician Wellness Hub – CMA has curated a searchable collection of 275+ resources, tools and research on topics such as physician burnout, depression, peer support and organizational wellness.

Caring for Ourselves and Others – BCCFP’s physician wellness resources

A Comprehensive Handbook: The COVID-19 Survival Toolkit for Healthcare Heroes – VCH

Care for Caregivers – CMHA and SafeCare BC

Psychologists Giving Back to Front Line Service Providers – Registered psychology practitioners are donating services

YMCA’s Y Mind – Free, Online Mental Wellness Program for Youth & Adults

The Well-being of Medical Relationships – Physician & Family Support Program for personal and work-based relationships

Taking Care of Each Other during COVID-19: Peer Support for Physicians – Receive 0.25 Mainpro+/MOC Section 2 credits by completing an online exercise

Mind Control: Managing Your Mental Health During COVID-19 – Online Course – University of Toronto

BounceBack Online Course – CBT Modules – CMHA and PHSA

Meditation, Mindfulness and Journaling

Ten Percent Happier – Podcast – six-months free access for physicians, email: care@tenpercent.com.

Mindshift App – Anxiety Canada

Breathe by Dr. Jud App – simple but effective one-minute breathing exercises

Reference a full list of resources compiled by VCH, here.

Staying Fit While Social Distancing

YMCA 360 Free Video Fitness Programs – variety of children to older adults classes

WHO Examples of Home Exercises

10 Best YouTube Workout Channels

Indoor Exercise Tips-  Workout & Stay Healthy:

Gyms Offering Online Workouts

Somatic and Yoga Online Classes & Videos

CBC Life Article – At-Home Fitness Ideas

Reference a full list of resources compiled by VCH, here.

Performing Arts and Creative Hearts

Just Color – 1,500 free adult colouring pages

ArtyFactory – free art lessons to improve skills and enjoyment in creating artworks

Reference a full list of resources compiled by VCH, here.

For Book Lovers and the Brainy Bunch

Libby, By OneDrive – free access to library eBooks and audiobooks

Coursera – 1,900+ free courses including the science of well-being, how to build an app, relationships and graphic design

Reference a full list of resources compiled by VCH, here.

Enjoy a Night Out from the Comfort of Your Couch

#CanadaPerforms – free performances from Canadian artists livestreamed daily

12 Famous Museums that Offer Virtual Tours

Reference a full list of resources compiled by VCH, here.

Get in the Virtual Game

8 Online Games for a Virtual Hangout

Tabletopia – 800+ online games (in 8 languages) to play with others

Reference a full list of resources compiled by VCH, here.