We are happy to announce the start of a new project, where each month we highlight residents working to better their communities. To start us off, we sat down with Dr. Geoff Frost, RDBC’s Director of Communications, and the mastermind behind the new Pulse Podcast (new episodes released each month!) to ask him some questions regarding his involvement with the committee, and his thoughts behind the podcast.
Why did you decide to get involved with the Communications Committee at RDBC?
Honestly, it was a bit of an accident. I ran to be on the Board at RDBC, as I have past experience founding and running a small business. I thought that experience would be of value when renegotiating our contract with the BC Government, which I had heard was going to happen in the 2018–2019 year. So, I ran to be on the Board and was humbled to win. At the first board meeting, the board selects an Executive from the board itself. It’s basically a small internal election. I had planned on staying quiet and learning, given this was my first year on the board, and trying to be more involved in 2018–2019 when negotiations really got started. Fortunately, my plans got derailed.
At the meeting, the board started filling the executive positions. We filled the role of President, Vice-President, and Finance Director without issue after some competitive elections. But when it came to Communications Director, no one wanted to do it. Everyone who was nominated turned it down. I think three different people turned it down. Eventually, my friend Nick Monfries decided to nominate me just to see if I’d take the role. By the time it got to me, I felt it was time someone stepped up as everyone else had turned down the position. So here I am!
What do you think is the value of the communications outreach RDBC engages in, and the benefit of your involvement with it?
RDBC as an organization is mandated to represent residents in negotiating work contracts, and to help enforce our collectively bargained agreement on the wards. The better we can communicate with our members, as both a speaker and a listener, the easier it is to fulfill our mandate as an organization. In addition, we try and inform residents of important events that pertain to them – such as our upcoming tax workshop – that help make the residency process smoother and more enjoyable. I firmly believe that when it comes to communication, listening is often more valuable than speaking. In that regard, I hope to increase the amount of listening we as an organization do by providing residents with new ways to interact with us. Not because new is better, but because the easier it is to interact with RDBC, the more likely it is that a resident in need will talk to us and get the help they seek.
Furthermore, by listening to residents we hear about important collective agreement violations, personally tragedies, and other unfortunate events that prevent residents from excelling. At RDBC we aim to support our members in their goal of becoming the best physician they can be. The more we listen, the more we can support our members.
Honestly? I’d love to see the podcast grow into a show that tells the story of health care in Canada by taking individual stories that are representative of the whole. I would aim to use stories to represent both caregivers and patients. But I want to tell the stories from the prospective of a junior caregiver, in our case, the resident physician. I think what I’m trying to describe is an audio version of a World War Z/House of God hybrid. Now, I will be the first to admit, that’s a lofty goal that we are not near approaching. It’s the picture you pin on the wall in hopes of one day saving up enough money to go visit yourself.
For the short term, I want to grow listenership to between 15 and 20% of RDBC’s membership. Through the podcast, I want to delve into important topics that will interest residents. I’d like to tell a broad range of stories, from the mundane like how the upcoming tax changes will effect residents, to more narrative stories like your worst ever call shift. In the process, I want to engage our members by involving as many residents as we can in the recording of the show; it’s a platform for residents to tell their stories!
How do you hope to improve the resident experience with the podcast?
The main goal of the podcast is to provide residents with an accessible and easy way to keep in touch with important events that effect them. The podcast has a few sections that emphasize this, without going into detail – you’ll have to listen to the show – we provide a short bulletin of news that matters to residents. We hope that by providing residents with another avenue for interacting with RDBC, RDBC as an organization can be more transparent, more agile in managing complaints, and better able to represent residents needs and wants. But, to be honest, that’s only half of it. Improving communication with our membership is important, but the more enjoyable part of the podcast – at least for me – is the narrative section. In this part of the Podcast, we delve into a topic of interest to residents in an informative yet fun way. In our first episode, we talked about Technology in Medicine. We were able to interview leaders in the field, and residents working in the trenches. The ability to tell stories really excites me. Hospitals, by their nature, provide a wealth of drama and stories. Some are tragic, some are joyous. Delving into those stories, and telling them from the resident perspective, is something unique that I hope will give residents a voice. And I really do mean voice in the literal sense, our aim to tell different stories every week, featuring a different resident in each episode.
Our next episode is about how the proposed federal tax changes will impact residents. And while that’s a bit dry at first pass, I had a blast putting together a narrative that attempts to turn something rather boring into an interesting story. I hope everyone out there has a chance to crack open their favourite refreshment while listening to us try and make taxes entertaining.
How can residents benefit from involvement with RDBC and the community around them?
RDBC offers residents an opportunity to step outside the realm of direct clinic care and involve themselves in administrative and public health roles. For any future physician, exposure to these complementary and necessary aspects of care delivery can really enhance your residency. For instance, if you are looking to brush up on your business management skills, check out the Finance Committee. It oversees the budget of RDBC, which is a multi-million dollar corporation. At the end of the day, residency is all about learning and training to become the best physician you can be. RDBC helps you develop secondary skills that are nonetheless essential to running a medical practice, while at the same time giving back to the broader resident community.
While I value involvement at RDBC, there are even more opportunities available in the community at large. In the community, the world really is your oyster and anything is possible. For me, community involvement means taking time to unwind and try out new things that take my mind off the ward. There are a lot of opportunities in Vancouver to participate in recreational activities that can help make residency a joy, rather than a chore. In my case, that means beach volleyball and skiing. Of course, there are nobler residents than me that spend their downtime giving back to the community in ways they enjoy – whether that’s working at a food bank, or promoting a cause they believe in. Whatever your community involvement is, I think it’s important that it provide you with an outlet to express yourself while engaging with members of the community you would not otherwise encounter.