New Initiative Gives Physicians a Voice

The storm warnings did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of members attending the Vancouver Physician Staff Association’s inaugural meeting on October 13. More than 70 VCH-Vancouver Acute physicians from VGH, UBC Hospital and the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre gathered for the occasion and the launch of a new approach to give physicians a meaningful voice.

The physician engagement initiative (also known as the Facility Engagement Initiative) is a province-wide endeavour outlined in a 2014 Memorandum of Understanding on Regional and Local Engagement. Designed to provide physicians working in hospitals and acute care facilities input on issues affecting them and their patients, this initiative will create opportunities for physicians to work collaboratively with VCH.

“It’s a focused attempt to reach deeply into the physician population and find out how things can be improved,” says Dr. Marshall Dahl, co-chair of the Vancouver Physician Staff Association. “We know from the most recent Doctors of BC member survey that physicians want to have meaningful input. This is our chance for that.”

A first in Canada

The event was held at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, a facility developed in partnership with physicians and an excellent example of what multidisciplinary collaboration can achieve. Dr. Dahl and his co-chair Dr. Lyne Filiatrault, however, are aiming to take physician engagement to an entirely new level.

Annual funding to support activities identified and prioritized by the Vancouver Physician Staff Association and its members will come from the Specialist Services Committee, a partnership of Doctors of BC and the Ministry of Health and a Canadian first to support and strengthen relationships between facility-based physicians and health authorities.

“For all physicians who care about good patient care and having a fulfilling practice in a positive working environment, this is your initiative,” says Dr. Dahl.

Dr. Derry Dance, a physiatrist at GF Strong, agrees.

“This initiative is grassroots-driven; it’s trying to get at the issues that matter to clinicians,” he says. “The launch was a chance to put forward ideas for projects as well as to encourage members to raise awareness about this opportunity with their colleagues and generate even more ideas.”

Next steps

Next steps for Drs. Dahl and Filiatrault include reviewing input physicians provided at the launch, listening and learning.

“Our initial priority is to collect as much information as we can on what’s important to physicians at all three sites,” explains Dr. Filiatrault. “Once we know the hot-button issues, we’ll have a better idea about what Vancouver projects need to deliver.”

She and Dr. Dahl anticipate holding site-specific meetings over the coming months, as well as a focus group dinner in the new year.

What’s important to you?

If you’re a Vancouver Acute physician working at VGH, UBCH or GF Strong, your Vancouver Physician Staff Association wants to hear from you.

How could VCH improve your working environment? Do you have ideas for improving patient care, enhancing the physician experience or increasing the cost-effectiveness of the health care system?

Email Dr. Dahl with your input and find out how you can get involved: marshall.dahl@vch.ca.

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