- Anita Acai, PhD, Assistant Professor and Education Scientist, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
- Karen Saperson, MBChB, Vice-Chair and Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Introduction: Addressing wellbeing needs among learners, faculty, and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for many clinical and academic departments. Continued and systemic supports are urgently needed to ensure that departments are able to carry out their clinical, educational, and research missions. To ensure uptake, supports should be based on an accurate picture of departmental needs. Methods: Beginning in March 2020, the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) quality improvement cycle was used to inform an iterative approach to conducting a needs assessment and implementing a COVID-19-related wellness initiative in a psychiatry department. Key elements of the intervention included a Wellness Working Group, the curation of educational materials on the Department’s website, and the deployment of regular, monthly surveys (to date, N = 3) that informed the creation of further supports, such as a weekly online drop-in support group. Results: Survey response rates ranged from 22% to 32% (n = 90 to 127) throughout the intervention. Across multiple surveys, approximately 80% of respondents reported feeling supported or very supported by the Department, and 90% were satisfied or very satisfied with the quantity and quality of the information provided. The online support group and educational materials were accessed by nearly one-quarter and one-third of participants, respectively, with satisfaction rates of 81% or higher. Consistent with the Department’s mandate, ensuring equity was a key focus of the Working Group throughout its operations. Conclusion: Ensuring wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic is critical for ensuring the sustainability of the healthcare workforce. There is potential for this initiative to be scaled up to create a faculty-wide, institution-wide, or regional approach to addressing wellbeing. This model is adaptable to other departments seeking to address wellbeing needs during a time of crisis.
- Describe stressors that may be impacting members of clinical academic departments both within and outside of COVID-19
- Understand how a quality improvement framework can be applied to assess needs and support wellbeing in clinical academic departments
- Identify tangible supports for wellbeing that can be applied to their own institutional contexts