Gayathri Manoharan, Dr. Erin Woods, Dr. Phil Carverhill, Sam Curnew. (L-R)
Gayathri Manoharan, Dr. Erin Woods, Dr. Phil Carverhill, Sam Curnew. (L-R)

Ice cream rounds help to sweeten residency

It’s not a new program, but it’s one that’s relatively new to the College of Medicine, and the hope is that a successful trial-run with the pediatric residency program will turn it into a common occurrence

And with ice cream in the mix, how could it not be successful?

“Ice Cream Rounds started in Ottawa and Toronto as an initiative to improve Medical Resident Wellness.  There are now five training programs in BC that have incorporated similar Rounds into their academic programs,” said Dr. Erin Woods, Department of Pediatrics. “We borrowed the idea from them, and I am grateful that Dr. Phil Carverhill has agreed to partner with us and facilitate the rounds. There is increasing awareness of the high levels of burnout found among physician learners and staff nationally. I have a strong interest in Resident Wellness and this is one of a few initiatives I hope to incorporate into our academic program.”

Carverhill, a Registered Doctoral Psychologist, had experience with similar “rounds” while training in a palliative care residency in Montréal – unfortunately minus the ice cream!

“It was a tremendous opportunity for those who worked (and) trained on the palliative care unit to regularly gather as a community in a safe, facilitated space. In our conversations we shared the challenges, triumphs, questions, and experiences of being human and caring for others at end of life. What made palliative care enriching for us? What made it difficult?

“There was no doubt in my mind when Dr. Woods asked if I would be interested in facilitating Ice Cream Rounds for the Pediatric Residency Program here at U. of S.,” Carverhill continued. “The aim is to create a safe and confidential space, a caring space for these physicians to be able to have a conversation, to explore a whole range of topics and experiences within and outside their life as a pediatric resident. I hope to foster and encourage a sense of comradery, connection, communication and support that isn’t always perhaps so visible or possible on the clinical units.”         

And since the grand rounds sessions are open to physicians and allied health practitioners, the worry is that the residents may not always feel comfortable discussing these topics openly around their mentors. So by ensuring there is only one, confidential, facilitator in the room the Ice Cream Grand Rounds give the residents the opportunity to speak freely.

“Hopefully the residents that participate in it learn about themselves and each other, and that the group process helps people develop insights in a way that’s experiential and stigma-reducing with regards to mental health issues," added Carverhill. “My hope is that the residents will have the opportunity to see each other in different lights and to share what also helps them be resilient, to maintain good mental and social health.”

Ultimately, Woods sums it up the most succinctly: “(It’s) knowing you’re not alone.”

And the ice cream? Well, that’s just a little bit of a sweet incentive.

The ice cream for this session was graciously provided to the program by Rizwan Qureshi’s Marble Slab Creamery on 8th St. East.

(Article updated on Friday, February 26)

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