Pilot program will ‘vaccinate’ trainees against stress and burnout


By Mardi Chapman

15 Mar 2017

Basic physician training at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney will soon incorporate compulsory sessions on psychological and physical wellbeing for doctors.

The pilot program BPT OK aims to provide ‘survival skills’ to trainees and challenge a culture of acceptance when young doctors take their own lives.

Dr Bethan Richards, head of rheumatology at RPA and former director of physician training, told the limbic there were three basic physician trainee suicides in NSW in the last four months.

BPT OK will arm basic physician trainees with the knowledge and skills to not only survive, but hopefully thrive in our health system.”

“In addition to arming our trainees with survival skills, BPT OK will start a conversation, and hopefully be shown to be a successful pilot that will set a new benchmark in physician training and change the way training sites are accredited in the future,” she said.

“Key principles behind the program are that we will value this teaching as much as teaching other life saving skills like CPR. We will therefore deliver this in protected teaching time – that is, it is not an optional extra – and we will assess the impact formally to show if it works.”

The program will include workshops on recognising signs and symptoms of stress and burnout, stress management techniques such as mindfulness and muscle relaxation, debriefing, achieving work life balance as a trainee doctor, performance coaching to help with exam pressures, developing personalised exercise programs, and how to seek help when required.

Sydney Local Health District funded BPT OK through its The Pitch initiative – an innovation challenge to support ideas from the front line that can improve the health system. The funding of almost $50,000 will help implement and assess the program.

Dr Richards said although the program was only announced last week, there was already interest from other health districts.




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