It’s well known that having a sense of community and connection is good for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. That’s why VPSA is funding a six-month commensality group pilot program. Five applications were approved for this first round: three from the Department of Family Medicine; one from Neurology; and another from Psychiatry.
Commensality groups have been shown to reduce physician burnout, decrease depression, and improve job satisfaction. Originally studied and deployed at the Mayo Clinic, these groups are small gatherings of physicians who meet monthly for an hour to discuss issues central to the physician experience. Dr. Colin West, a thought leader in this area, spoke to our wellness champions about commensality groups earlier this year. He provided insights and feedback that we have integrated into our program.
The VCH Kitsilano-Fairview Mental Health psychiatry team was the first to kick off sessions with Dr. Ruchi Thakur hosting seven of our colleagues in early September. The group spent the first 15 minutes talking about what had gone well for them at work over the past month and what they had found satisfying professionally. The rest of the time was an opportunity to get to know each other better.
“It was great for us to be able to meet like this; it was our first group get-together in over two years,” said Dr. Thakur. “As doctors, we hardly ever meet, but it’s helpful to know your colleagues. It makes it easier to talk about patients when you know each other personally. I think it will time for people to open up but I’m sure it will happen, and everyone enjoyed themselves.”
VPSA provides $25 towards the meals for each attending physician at the commensality group meetings.
“It’s not a lot, but it does provide an incentive to attend,” said Dr. Thakur. “I hope we will continue to meet even after the six months of funding is over. My hope is that everyone will realize the value of getting together and we’ll continue to meet regularly.”