Background ‘Acute take’ is rarely synonymous with ‘relaxing day at work’ for a health care professional. Although many of us thoroughly enjoy the challenges, we know that the digestion of the shifts may be hard and the processing, of often complex interactions, difficult. There are high standards that we place on ourselves, and finding this energy in itself can be tough.
The terms ‘wellbeing’, ‘resilience’ and ‘self-reflection’ involve personal processes, often evolving over time. Whilst we build our strength and learning of these nuanced skills there is increasing evidence that a safe space and a supportive network of colleagues is paramount to a healthy work relationship.
We built facilitated time into the work schedule for our team to reflect, allowing space to help one process cases and build on their own ‘emotional training’.
Objectives To establish a workable format which facilitated reflection on difficult emotional clinical events and interactions for our heterogenous peer group. Furthermore, to determine whether colleagues would choose to keep attending the sessions and whether participation would help emotional learning from one another.
Methods We established a fortnightly one-hour Reflective Practice Group for all trainees and consultants within the neonatal and paediatric department. The group was facilitated by a trained psychoanalytic psychotherapist, with experience of leading Balint groups. Participants were encouraged to bring a case from the past few weeks and the participants were invited to reflect openly with each other, we used the structure of Balint Groups to guide us.
Questionnaires comprising quantitative and qualitative information were collected following 10 sessions. The qualitative results were collected by one of the authors and findings reviewed for common themes.
Results From 18 responses, 94% of responders said they would reattend and welcome further sessions. The barriers and enablers to the group are themed and summarised in table 1. 77.8% of responders felt they, in just a few sessions, had learnt from others reflections.
Conclusions Recurring phrases included ‘awkward, forced and unstructured’ but also ‘relevant, beneficial and closure’. Our team clearly requires flexibility on entering the group late, eating cake at a table, allowing seniors to share comfortably and for there to be a planned case. Modification of sessions can be helpful in making the groups meaningful, relevant for training needs and less alienating. A workable solution therefore needs to be an evolving quality assured one.
A frenetic work schedule may prevent the emotional digestion of the workload and cases. A scheduled session for the team to digest the week can be extremely beneficial. In our opinion the key is to adapt the sessions to fit the group of individuals for whom it is trying to support. We now plan to measure whether the ‘Monthly Digest’ group has a beneficial effect on colleague reflection and well-being.
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