Dr. Carmen Gittens

Dr. Carmel Gittens

Professional roles

  • BMBS, CCFP - family physician
  • Hospitalist physician, Rockyview General Hospital
  • Physician Lead, Physician Wellness for Calgary Hospitalists
  • Clinical Lecturer, Department of Family Medicine, University of Calgary

When we caught up with Dr. Gittens, we asked her to describe a project she is currently working on. Here is what she shared with us.

Why Dr. Carmen Gittens gets our physician wellness #GOAT!

Read the full story here

Dr. Serena Siow and I are continuing to develop a wellness program that supports our hospitalist physician colleagues. We recently established a peer support program through the help of Well Doc Alberta. There are so many inspiring people and programs in the wellness space, including PFSP, from which we gain valuable ideas and momentum. We are making connections with this wider wellness community and looking for cost-effective and evidence-based initiatives. We are also writing about our research and have submitted papers for publication in various peer-reviewed journals.

Please describe briefly your wellness initiative with the Calgary Hospitalist group.

Our goal is to create a multi-faceted wellness program that addresses both system factors and personal factors. Using validated survey tools, we have obtained baseline measurements of physician wellness. This data has allowed us to identify the most influential areas for potential changes based on physician opinions. By coupling this data with established research on interventions that have been successful at other centers, we hope to create a program for our physicians that will make a meaningful difference. Our goal would be to see measurable improvements in their well-being.

Tell us what your colleagues can expect from you in this role.

As co-lead for the hospitalist physician wellness program, my colleagues can expect me to advocate with their best interests at heart. My main motivation is the 30% of physicians who experience burnout on a weekly basis, and the 20% of physicians who experience suicidal ideation over their lifetimes. The research shows that medical students start out more resilient than their peers of similar age and education, but over the course of their training, their mental health declines. We need to work to change the culture that breaks physicians down. We need to reject the idea that patient care is a competing interest against our own self-care. Rather, we need to extend the same compassion to ourselves as we give to others.

There is also a strong business case for improving physician wellness. Burnout is associated with reduced quality of care, poorer patient outcomes and increased costs to the health care system. Burnout has an estimated organizational cost of $6,660 per physician per year.

Please describe briefly your partnership with Dr. Serena Siow.

Serena is an amazing champion for physician wellness! She has spent so much time educating herself and passing this knowledge on to others. We could not have achieved our success to date without her rigorous research background and understanding of the different measurement tools for wellness. On a personal level, she's an inspiring friend who practices what she preaches.

Got #GOAT?

We know many students, residents and physicians are doing good things for their colleagues' wellness. Let us know who gets your physician wellness #GOAT, by emailing pfsp@albertadoctors.org.

Continue reading Dr. Gittens' profile in the January-February 2021 issue of Alberta Doctors' Digest

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.