Jamie Burrows was on the floor of her hospital emergency department in 2020 when a colleague told her they would be nominating her for the 2020 ACEM Wellbeing Award. A trainee at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, in Sydney, Jamie was nominated for her ‘significant contribution to staff wellbeing’ at RPA, including a program focused on the wellbeing of trainees going to and returning from secondment, and for more ad hoc efforts relating to wellbeing during COVID-19.
The secondment program Jamie set up is named ‘WOWS’ – Wellbeing Outreach While Seconded. The idea for the program came to her while she was on maternity leave in 2019.
‘I bumped into a good friend and colleague. They shared how they were trying to get over the upset of feedback they had received during an ITA at their latest secondment.
‘It struck me how an insightful, competent and team-playing doctor can so very easily feel doubtful, insecure, isolated and misunderstood.’
Jamie says the discussion caused her to realise how much the job of a physician relies on cohesive team dynamics, trust and understanding – and that all these take time to build.
‘In any industry, changing our job roles significantly every three months would be deemed stressful. The adaptability and flexibility required from us is exceptional. She recalls doing her paediatrics, anaesthetics and ICU secondments back-to-back over a nine-month period in 2017.
‘Despite the DEMTs at my “home” emergency department being overtly supportive and approachable, I still felt reluctant to reach back to them – I had been assigned a secondment supervisor and I presumed my home DEMTs would be busy enough with their on-site trainees.
‘You want to be seen to be doing well when you fly the nest. I wanted [with WOWS] to help trainees access help by varying the avenues through which they reach out. After bumping into her friend, Jamie returned home to write a proposal that she sent to the DEM and DEMTs at RPA.
‘I was met with plenty of positivity and encouragement and things rolled from there.’ WOWS comprises three main elements – peer support, advocacy and education.
‘It is a confidential, registrar-led platform to encourage communication, with a strong focus on being easily accessible to support trainees over their entire secondment period.
‘We contact all seconded trainees at the start, middle and end of their term. At the start we check everyone has what they need – rosters, parking maps and