Long Lives, Healthy Workplaces
This toolkit is a resource to support anaesthesia departments and individual anaesthetists to operationalise a framework they can put into action.
The Long Lives, Healthy Workplaces toolkit is a resource to support anaesthetic departments and individual anaesthetists to operationalise a framework they can put into action. Through using the toolkit, a department or individual practitioner can identify strengths and gaps, and take a comprehensive approach to developing an action plan for long term change.
Long Lives, Healthy Workplaces is an initiative of the Wellbeing Special Interest Group and Everymind, with support from the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) and additional funding leveraged under The Prevention Hub. The purpose is to provide a toolkit to support better mental health and wellbeing for anaesthetists and anaesthetic trainees.
To complement the toolkit, the Long Lives, Healthy Workplaces Toolkit Steering Group has prepared supplementary resources that is hoped will help you to navigate the toolkit, and plan and implement a wellbeing strategy for your workplace. You will also find the New Zealand specific resources created to supplement the toolkit for NZ departments. Please visit the ASA website for open access to these valuable resources.
In line with the college’s commitment to doctors’ health and wellbeing, we are pleased to show support for this initiative and encourage you to take advantage of this valuable resource.
The four and nine page summary outlines the tips to support five strategies that will:
• Improve the culture of medicine to increase wellbeing and reduce stigma.
• Improve the training and work environment to reduce risk.
• Improve capacity to recognise and respond to those needing support.
• Better support anaesthetists and trainees impacted by mental ill-health and suicide.
• Improve leadership, coordination, data and information on the health and wellbeing of our profession.
Doctors' self care
As doctors, it is particularly important to take time out to focus on self-care by regularly visiting your general practitioner and taking other measures to avoid burnout. By ignoring your own physical or mental health issues, you may be putting yourself and your patients at risk.
Cartoon © Steve Panozzo, The Cartoon Factory
Stress, burnout and fatigue are serious problems with significant consequences.
Fatigue adversely affects your health and dramatically reduces your cognitive function, which in turn impairs your decision making. This puts yourself and others at risk and can impact patient care.
Additionally, doctors who are fatigued are at greater risk of needle stick injury and being involved in motor vehicle accidents. Some of the signs of fatigue and burnout are headaches, feeling run down, difficulty sleeping, fluctuating weight, irritability, loss of confidence and being withdrawn. Use the AMA Fatigue Assessment Tool to determine if you are at risk of fatigue.
Keeping the Doctor Alive is a resource developed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners with information and resources on strategies for self-care specifically designed for medical professionals.
For medical professionals who work long hours it can be challenging to balance work commitments with personal life, family and friends. Take the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 5 to Thrive challenge to see if you can reclaim five hours a week back from your schedule to recharge and reduce burnout.
Isabel Hanson and Safdar Ahmed have produced a brilliant comic hoping to start a conversation on healthcare culture and burn out. Can you relate?
See the whole comic here.
Building support networks both at work and outside work is recommended to help maintain a balanced life. Gaining peer support from other anaesthetists or trusted colleagues who may understand what you are going through is also a valuable tool.
Look out for your colleagues
As well as being mindful of your own wellbeing, it is equally important to look out for signs of burnout, stress, or poor mental health in your colleagues.
Don't be afraid to approach the elephant in the room. There will never be a perfect time to have this conversation, so be bold and ask "Are you okay?", "How are you really?" or "I've noticed that...". Taking a walk or getting a coffee can be a great way to start the conversation.
Support your colleague and direct them to the help and resources that they need to get them back on track.
Recognising the warning signs for substance abuse
Are you enthusiastic for long, difficult or complicated cases? Do you volunteer to work extra shifts or to do extra or late cases on a list? Are you over-anxious to give breaks to your colleagues?
Did you know that these are some of the warning signs of drug abuse, according the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI)?
These attributes are also those which are generally valued by anaesthetists, which highlights how difficult it can be to recognise substance misuse amongst our colleagues.
For more warning signs and for strategies on what to do when you suspect someone may have a substance abuse problem, read the Wellbeing Special Interest Group resource document RD 20 Substance Abuse 2013.