Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Physician Breakfast Club

#quality summit Where do doctors go for a safe place to try out ideas?  That was the topic of a breakfast meeting this morning at the Saskatchewan Health Care Quality Summit.

A couple of years ago, a few Saskatoon-based doctors decided that they would start a physician breakfast club to provide an informal venue for people interested in quality and safety improvement to share stories and provide mutual support.  Although a small group, they applied a thoughtful discipline to their approach.  They decided ahead of time what their goals were; limited the group to seven or eight people; committed to a meeting interval of six to eight weeks, scheduled for a year in advance; decided that a quorum of two people at any given meeting was acceptable; engaged a non-physician helper to organize the sessions and prepare minutes; and adopted a policy of summarizing and critiquing each meeting at its conclusion.

Today, the core group of the breakfast club presented this concept to doctors from throughout the province, offering it as a potential model to be replicated and/or adapted.  Here you see, Mark Wahba (right), an emergency room doctor, explaining the idea.  He told the story of an idea he had to obtain feedback from his ER patients after discharge, something that is often lacking.  When he presented his thoughts to his ER colleagues, they were not supportive.  But when he brought it to the breakfast club, people were less judgmental and offered suggestions that led to his plan being implemented.

Also shown in the picture is Debra-Jane Wright, who serves as organizer and scribe for the group.  Beyond being a note-taker, she summarizes and consolidates the thoughts of the group session.  In the words of Dr. Susan Shaw, another group member, "She makes us sound really smart!"

The conversation this morning taught me something about doctors, too, the sense of isolation they feel in their profession, particularly as they are promoted to leadership positions.  "As soon as you are made a department or section head, you are 'on the other side,'" was the way one person put it.  "Your physician colleagues make you feel more lonely and isolated.  Meanwhile, the administration also feels that you are not one of them."

How sad a statement!  But how accurate, I believe.  As noted by Dr. Kishore Visvanathan (left), to the extent this kind of breakfast club gives doctors a place to explore and crystallize ideas related to quality and safety improvement and to gain mutual support from their peers, the better off we'll all be.

1 comment:

Maggie Mahar said...

Sounds great. I'd like to hear more about the discussions.