Session 14 (Mental Health) - Q&A
Questions for Bryan
How to solve/prevent burnout?
- Dee Kini (clinician) : whenever the pregnancy rate drops it is invariably blamed on the lab and embryologist. How can we prevent this?
- Liesl: Dee, hi. I am a lab director. I think it is of utmost importance that the lab director has a good, mutual respect relationship with the doctors. That way they can look systematically at data together, Instead of US and THEM, there should be a unified US approach.
Sources of stress:
- Shaakirah Moosa: Along with social and political demands that become ignored do you think religious demands should be included in this topic as well?Up to what level should religious demands be obliged?
- At our group, our one doctor has religious demands that everybody has to accommodate. It may come across unfair. But he is always willing to cover for others to celebrate their holidays.
- Dr Richa Sharma: What about stress due to politics in an organization by management(non medical) creating stress for both clinicians and Embryologists -How to tackle that ?
- Very good question. I work at a University IVF program, and that is definitely a factor. I think Unity between the Docs and Lab staff helps a lot.
- Shaista: This one is tough. It exists to some extent wherever you go. I think mutual trust and respect between the lab and the clinic is essential. Making sure communication exists as well. A lot of the "them" v. "us" between clinicians and the lab occur due to lack of communication.
- i think they should know the importance of procedure and instead of teasing politics, they should see work is being done for humanity not for self.
- How do embryologists compare with other professions you have dealt with?
- Diana Guerra: Would you say burnout is higher than in medical staff?
- Shaista: I think that would be like comparing apples to oranges. I think burnout exists in both fields, but in slightly different ways. Each lab, and each clinic will have their own workflow and that will dramatically impact burnout. I think being understaffed in ANY department can lead to significant burnout for employees
Questions for Helen Priddle
- HFEA all out leadership aren’t you surprised this support is not available?
- Helen: I think we’ve all seen the ‘leadership’ focus on quality management and getting a good service together, less about leadership in terms of “experience” and stress. This is starting to be addressed now though, with people helping embryologists recognise the other skills we need to function holistically.
- I-chungchen: Just wondering what is the issue related to the LN2?
- Helen: In the UK survey there were a range of effects, skin damage and nerve damage mostly.
- Causes burns
- Are you aware of any educational programs for embryologists or medical professionals to train us in how to manage teamwork and burn out within our labs?
- Helen: Certainly this would be a useful contribution, and in the UK ARCS is providing leadership and management training.
- Shaakirah Moosa: Why do you think mental health is still not officially recognized by most people as a serious illness? Does it stem from historical mindsets wherein this was not previously recognized?
- Helen: I think there are multiple answers to this question. But to some degree it could be to do with the false distinction between the mind and the body: the thought that if its in the mind it is somehow less real and more controllable.
Questions for Alice
- Do you think there are better coping strategies specifically for men versus women?
- Murid Javed: Are there efforts to remove stigma attached to the mental depression/mental illness?
- Helen: Certainly in the UK there are public campaigns placing emphasis on reducing the stigma. This can only be helpful in enabling an honest conversation about burnout.
- Marina Gvakharia: In my experience, team cohesion among nursing staff and embryologists is paramount for a healthy environment at IVF clinics. Anyone care to expand on this issue?
- Helen: Cohesion and good communication between all teams promotes a healthy working environment in any workplace.
- Kimball Pomeroy: What affect could an embryologist organization for and by embryologists have in working to reduce stress for embryologists?
- Helen: ARCS (UK organisation for Reproductive Scientists) is currently drafting guidelines subsequent to learning of the occupational health issues experienced by embryologists. We hope that this can raise awareness of the problems and provide suggestions of how to help. Hopefully we can promote the issue and it will be treated with the seriousness it warrants.
- Deidre Nikkel: I am curious where RNs fit on the stress/burnout spectrum
- Helen: There is a lot of literature on nursing and burnout, so they are up there!
- Haytham Mohamed: Is stress among IVF Consultants compared to Embryologist common? (travelling embryologists)
- Helen: I’m not sure that’s been looked at. I suspect the pressures for the two types of embryologist are partially shared and partially disparate. For instance, a locum embryologist may have more control over their workload, but less job security. They may have less of a burden of administrative tasks, but more of a burden of proving their competence.
- Richard Rawlins: In my opinion as an ART lab director for 30 years in both institutional and private clinical settings, it is the responsibility of the lab director to ensure appropriate staffing levels for the lab as a function of case load. It is also important to provide avenues for professional growth for your staff such as advanced degrees and training to support the personal importance of each staff member. Send them to professional meetings. Pay for tuition for advanced degrees.
- (NOT A QUESTION BUT GOOD POINT)...yes!
- margaret papadakis: I wonder if stress level or burn out risk increases or decreases with years of experience.
- Helen: evidence suggests coping styles change with age and become more active and less avoidant. Either that or it's the more proactive problem solvers who survive and don't leave the profession!
- Deepti Tiwari: Can someone address job security, bonus, profit sharing, underpay for highly stressful jobs? Thank you.
- Helen: “reward” and being valued is a mitigating factor in workplace stress, although it can only go so far….