Taking engagement to the next level

The province-wide Facility Engagement Initiative (FEI) was created to build physician engagement and trust. VPSA FEI activities have been ongoing since October 2016, with medical staff identifying and prioritizing issues, and committees forming to deliver members’ priorities. Yet three health authority engagement surveys later, the needle has not moved on developing meaningful engagement between Vancouver Physician Staff Association (VPSA) physicians and VCH leadership. To turn the tide, a joint physicians and leaders workshop was held November 30 at VGH.

“It’s clear that what we’ve been doing is not enough,” said VPSA Co-chair Dr. Lyne Filiatrault in her introduction to the session. “It’s time for us to press the reset button and try something new. Our purpose today is to create a framework that will allow for effective engagement between physicians and VCH administrators… to work with a common language and create a structure to build upon.”

The meeting was facilitated by VCH Director of Strategy Deployment Lori Benning.

“The power to change is in this room,” she said before introducing the group to a model of engagement (adapted from the IAP2) that covers the spectrum from inform (stakeholders receive information and announcements), consult (stakeholders are consulted on draft plans or issues and their feedback impacts decisions), involve (the system includes stakeholders in planning and policy processes), collaborate (stakeholders share decision-making), and empower (stakeholders identify issues, solutions and actions). Then Lori put the group to work.

Participants worked collaboratively to realize the benefits as well as the challenges of engaging stakeholders at each of the levels of engagement. They considered when each level is most appropriate and what roadblocks can get in the way. Physicians and leaders discussed projects and initiatives that fit each level and what appropriate next steps would be to engage others.

“We know we need to embark on something that establishes effective engagement,” said Lori at the end of the exercise. “Physicians and leaders share the same goals; we want the same things. This is hard to get right. We need to be aware of the barriers in the way…. the things that get missed and overlooked so we can tackle the elephant in the room around engagement.”

Leaders and physicians then chimed in on the impediments to engagement, literally pinning their ideas to a large drawing of an elephant. The greatest obstacles: time; resources; and culture. This was followed by groups talking about current projects and how they could involve physicians at the various levels of engagement.

The session was met with enthusiasm on behalf of both VPSA members and VCH leaders.

“An excellent session to interact with members of VCH admin,” said one physician.

“This session was much more purposeful than the first year,” said another. “There is a clearer direction building the foundation (vs. only connecting). I see these types of sessions as truly the starting point to engagement.”

VCH Vice President, Employee Engagement and Chief Operating Officer, Vancouver Community Laura Case added, “Thanks for your passion and leadership—together we can!”

To view photos from the November 30 meeting, click here.

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