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WFSA Annual Theme 2024: Workforce Well-being

Dr Susan Nicoll, WFSA’s Workforce Well-being Committee Chair, outlines the Annual Theme for 2024

Following the successful inaugural annual theme of Anaesthesia and Cancer Care in 2023, the WFSA annual theme for 2024 will be Workforce Well-being. This is a critical issue for our profession and the patients we care for all around the world.

What is well-being?

Well-being is outlined in the World Health Organization (WHO) constitution, where “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

The WHO also recognises that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition”.

Why have we chosen to focus on workforce well-being?

This topic has been chosen from a recognition that the health and well-being of the anaesthesiology workforce globally is integral to the work we do. We know that anaesthesiologists are an essential human resource for the provision of healthcare and improvement in health globally.

During the COVID pandemic, natural disasters and other recent extreme events, we have faced challenges to our health and well-being at the frontline of the healthcare response. But well-being is not just something we should think about during crises; we need to think about it every day. In ‘ordinary times’, we often face issues that challenge our well-being, such as adverse patient care events and provision of care with limited resources.

Well-being is not just something we should think about during crises; we need to think about it every day.

We need to be well to provide optimal patient care. Initial awareness of the link between patient safety and anaesthesiologists’ well-being has led to a focus on empowering individual anaesthesiologists to self-improve and change.

Education targeted to individual behaviours needs to empower a mindset for dealing with the reality of the work we do and the environment and experiences we have day to day. The aim is for career-long fulfilment and maintenance of meaning through work, while also recognising the importance of recovery.

What can we do to increase well-being?

We need to raise awareness of the importance of well-being in workforce strengthening and retention, and the link between workforce well-being and patient safety. This is not always understood by decision-makers and our colleagues.

Regardless of situation or circumstance, we need to advocate for a numerically sufficient, well-trained, adequately resourced workforce which is healthy and has good well-being. Retention through improved support strengthens the workforce without the lag times inherent in training, while improved support during training is also necessary to prepare for the challenges of our work.

During 2024, WFSA, led by members of the WFSA’s Workforce Well-being Committee, will highlight important well-being educational resources, and organise a series of webinars featuring international well-being experts. WFSA will continue to strongly advocate on well-being issues at the World Health Assembly and other important international meetings. Well-being will also feature prominently at the World Congress of Anaesthesiologists (WCA) in Singapore in March.

Good leadership is a vital contributor to anaesthesiologist health and well-being. WFSA will continue its work to support the development of leaders, especially in settings with limited resources. Engagement and advocacy are needed to develop meaningful opportunities to restore, maintain and improve the health and well-being of anaesthesiologists in different contexts.

Working together to improve well-being

The Workforce Well-being Committee looks forward to meeting you at the WCA in Singapore. Committee members will present, discuss and reflect with you on the well-being of anaesthesiologists. The WCA offers unparalleled opportunities to look at international workforce well-being issues in different countries and contexts and we are looking forward to your input.

When we share our experiences, our awareness of need and our solutions, working together, we increase the chance of improving the well-being of our profession globally.

We enhance our professional lives and how we deliver care for our patients by focussing on the specific needs of the anaesthesiologist as a human being. We communicate the needs and solutions within our context and workplace setting, as we seek to strengthen each other and ourselves.

Aligning with global initiatives to increase the functional anaesthesiology workforce requires a willingness to collaborate and connect, to codesign and support context-specific needs for well-being. It is our privilege globally, to have trained in a profession which is of use to humanity.

To be of service, we must understand and support our need for well-being, and we invite you, the global anaesthesiology community, to contribute to our work this year.

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