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New Brunswick Medical Society: Supporting Physician Wellness and Leadership
Anthony Knight, CEO, New Brunswick Medical Society
The New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is one of the oldest medical associations in the country and represents more than 2,000 practising, future and retired physicians in the province.
Over the course of the more than 150 years we’ve been collaborating with and supporting physicians, we’ve learned a tremendous amount about the effective delivery of health care – and about the importance of effectively caring for health care professionals.
Some of these key learnings are listed below and are reflected in a number of new programs available for physicians through NBMS.
- Cookie cutter approaches don’t work. NBMS’ Tailored Counselling Program was developed to provide timely, low barrier access support for any type of mental health needs our members were seeking. And while the offering is robust, the real success of the program has been being able to adapt the support to the lifestyle of the physician. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to serving physicians. Delivering almost 1,000 session per year, we know each physician has specific, individual concerns – whether it’s about the time they have available or about privacy, for example – our program accommodates the way in which a physician lives their life and functions in the community.
- Help for a physician’s family is also help for the physician. We’ve also made sure physicians’ spouses and their kids can participate in the program at no cost. As with any family, when children or a partner is struggling, it results in added stress. Our approach is to care for the whole physician, which means providing care for their families as well.
- Enabling better communications can also help reduce stress. When NBMS first launched the counselling program, we noticed during the intake process that there was a tremendous amount of anxiety caused by interpersonal relationships within the workplace; many physicians didn't have a counselling need but rather required tools and skills to help them communicate more effectively.
On one hand, physicians have scope of control in their own space, but they also work in a system that's often inefficient, or not meeting their patients needs, or not moving the needle in the way they would expect. Offering them mechanisms and tools for articulating their points of view and positively influencing change can help them overcome these frustrations.
- Leadership training is not just for business executives. Executive coaching can significantly contribute to building physician leadership skills and fostering personal growth. Although physicians are generally well equipped to have crucial conversations with patients, they're admittedly less so when it comes to discussions with a colleague or advocating for more system-level change. The NBMS executive coaching program was launched in 2021, resulting in physicians becoming increasingly prepared for those potentially high-impact conversations. To date, 84 physicians have been successfully matched with an executive coach and the intake continues.
- Leadership is personal. Our executive coaching program has also unlocked a new understanding of leadership. More and more, we're seeing physicians rely on principles of collaboration and consensus building, rather than command and control, which can be a dominant leadership stereotype. Likewise, participants of this program are adjusting their expectations of themselves and others, allowing themselves to grow into their own style of leadership. We also see physicians applying this learning in their work and daily lives and seeing the profound difference it can make.
- Partnership is key. We’re pleased and proud to work alongside partners including the Canadian Medical Association, MD Financial Management and Scotiabank. Their hand-in-hand approach to solving challenges related to physician wellness, their commitment to helping develop physician skills and their enthusiasm for promoting the unique role physicians play in the health care system allow for the development of programs that might not have existed otherwise and help make our communities stronger, healthier and better places.
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA), MD Financial Management Inc. (MD) and Scotiabank together are firmly committed to supporting the medical profession and advancing health in Canada. As proof of this commitment, Scotiabank, in collaboration with the CMA and MD, is investing $115 million over 10 years to support physicians and the communities they serve across Canada.