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Doctors strike a paws for their health and wellbeing

Clinical observer Priyanka Varghese and medical students Kaitlin Stewart and Rhys Harris with their teddy bears.

Junior doctors have unleashed their creative capabilities by building a teddy bear during a lunch break and donating it to a sick child.

Junior House Officer Dr Kunaal Kacker said the invitation from Medical Indemnity Protection Society (MIPS) to participate in the Paws for Thought event was a no-brainer.

“We all work pretty hard, but it’s important to take time out to be a part of events like this one – where we can take a break for lunch and do an activity none of us would normally do in our daily roles. 

“Some of these kids can spend months of their lives in hospital. If one of these bears can make a child smile, we’ve not only done something good for them, but also for ourselves by taking a break with our colleagues. It’s a good feeling,” Dr Kacker said.

Gold Coast Health Deputy Executive Director Medical Services Dr Kellie Wren said a focus of her role was supporting the junior medical workforce. 

“I feel passionately about the health and wellbeing of junior doctors and we will continue to develop and implement programs to support their wellbeing.”

Dr Wren started her anaesthetic registrar training at the old Gold Coast Hospital at Southport. 

“I know through my own journey, it’s a stressful time for our junior doctors. We are doing all we can to support their growth and aspirations,” she said.

Over the past 12 months, Gold Coast Health has worked on a range of improvements to support its junior doctor cohort.

This includes ensuring junior doctors have a voice within committees across the health service; implementing new governance processes in medical education to meet the needs of the junior doctor workforce; working to resolve issues related to overtime and fatigue; exploring the barriers to research involvement and, implementing a new Promoting Professional Accountability (PPA) program to address behaviours that can affect wellbeing and patient safety.

OneED is a mindfulness program which fosters wellness to improve staff communication and a sense of wellbeing among emergency department staff. It has been shown to translate into better patient satisfaction and safer work environments.

Gold Coast Health is committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of its 9500 staff through initiatives including Socks 4 Docks Day, R U OK Day and more. 

Each year MIPS works with hospitals providing education and support across many areas, including professional and personal challenges. 
MIPS Liaison Officer Mary Garner said the organisation understood the importance for doctors to take time out regularly to perform at their best; to aid their wellbeing and to minimise risks while practising.

“Paws for Thought events provide a way for junior doctors to take a moment to reflect and enjoy, to interact with their colleagues and give back to the community. Each element is critical to an individual’s own wellbeing,” she said.

Last updated 27 Nov 2019