Dr. Serena Siow

Dr. Serena Siow

Professional roles

  • MD, CCFP - family physician
  • Hospitalist Physician and Hospitalist Site Representative, Rockyview General Hospital
  • Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary
  • Representative Forum delegate, Section of Family Medicine, Alberta Medical Association
  • Physician Lead, Physician Wellness for Calgary Hospitalists

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

Why Dr. Serena Siow gets our physician wellness #GOAT!

Read the full story here

I am passionate about improving wellness for physicians in a way that positively impacts our daily work lives. Work conditions that allow physicians to thrive, lead to better patient interactions and outcomes. I aim to use an approach that is evidence-based, driven by physician needs, and creates system and culture change. My efforts toward advancing wellness include advocacy, education, measurement and interventions.

Prior to the pandemic, 30% of Canadian physicians reported high levels of burnout and 8% reported recent suicidal ideation. I am concerned about worsening burnout from chronic pandemic strain and additional demands on our work. Burnout is associated with addictions and substance use, death by suicide, increased medical error, and decreased quality of patient care. We need to act to improve physician wellness. We need to address system factors that drive 80% of burnout. We need to advocate for wellness beyond burnout and create positive change in our workplaces.

I am exploring partnerships to implement a framework for improved physician wellness that targets system and culture change. I provide education to physicians about evidence-based strategies for wellness. I empower physicians to achieve sustainable change toward their own wellness. I innovate online spaces for physicians to connect and share experiences. I hope physicians recognize that we are not alone in the demands of our profession and utilize connection as a strategy to maintain resilience. These physician groups also offer an opportunity to explore solutions to system issues together.

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

Hospitalists are family physicians who provide care to over 60% of medical inpatients in Calgary hospitals. Improving wellness for this group of physicians would lead to better patient care and outcomes for their 1,400 patients seen on a daily basis. To understand the pre-pandemic state, we completed a needs assessment to measure wellness and determine priority areas. We found burnout is prevalent: 20% of Calgary hospitalists reported high levels of burnout (weekly or more frequent) and 32% of Calgary hospitalists self-reported burnout. We provide education on strategies to mitigate burnout and improve wellness. We launched a peer support team offering a system-level approach to supporting colleagues in distress. We present recommendations to influence wellness at an organizational level, including best practices for scheduling during a pandemic. We advocate for optimized practice efficiency, such as improving our overnight shift experience, and strengthening our working relationship with the emergency department. We ask that physician wellness be considered whenever any decision is made. We advance the visibility of wellness as an organizational priority.

A system-level approach recognizes physicians as its most important resource and promotes a culture of improvement. Teams that value physician wellness achieve objectives during ordinary times and overcome challenges during times of crisis. Our framework to improve wellness is based on three main strategies:

  1. supporting physician resilience and emotional health
  2. improving practice efficiency through system change
  3. building a culture of wellness

We plan routine evaluation to measure impact and promote continuous improvement. We are exploring partnerships to implement the next steps toward our vision for improved physician wellness.

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

Dedication, reliability, integrity, courage, compassion

Please describe briefly your partnership with Dr. Carmen Gittens

Dr. Carmen Gittens is a colleague and friend. We established and lead the Physician Wellness for Calgary Hospitalists initiative together. Carmen is an incredible partner and advocate for wellness. She is enthusiastic, innovative and visionary in her commitment. I am inspired by her compassion and dedication to those around her. Our wellness efforts are better because of her involvement and contributions.

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

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.

Alberta Medical Association Mission: Advocate for and support Alberta physicians. Strengthen their leadership in the provision of sustainable quality care.