I was lucky to have the opportunity to attend the International Conference on Physician Health(ICPH) in Boston this September. The theme of the conference was Increasing Joy in Medicine. The professional medical associations of Canada, America, and Britain collaborated to provide sessions showcasing research and programs related to increasing resiliency, job-satisfaction, and positive change in medicine.
The conference began with a Keynote address from Jon Kabat-Zinn, international best-selling author and the founder of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. Kabat-Zinn was poised and articulate and when he pulled out a meditation cushion and got up on the conference table on stage to continue his talk sitting cross-legged in his suit I think he set just the right tone for the conference. Many of the workshops involved activities that might require one to get comfortable a bit outside his or her traditional comfort zone.
I was excited to become the PARIM Wellness Representative this spring and it was inspiring to see all the positive initiatives going on around the world related to improving medical student, resident, and physician wellness. I participated in a positive psychology session on finding your bliss and a session ran by an Internist about the use of poetry to process patient interactions. I learned about formalized debrief sessions popular in England called Balint Groups and heard a woman present research demonstrating the positive effects of Attending’s use of humor on the CTU. On the flip side, I listened to presentations on the challenges of mental illness, rates of suicidality, and burnout in our field that made everything else we learned about at the ICPH that much for relevant and important. Perhaps most interesting to me was to hear about how other regions and universities are integrating formalized wellness curricula at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Exciting local initiatives promoting wellness are developing and available for medical students, through UGME, to independently practicing physicians, through Doctors Manitoba. I look forward to integrating and applying some of the things I learned about at ICPH in my role as PARIM Wellness Representative and am grateful to Dr. Gigi Osler and Doctors Manitoba for the opportunity afforded me in being able to attend.