As you might have seen on my Instagram stories, this week I gave a couple of workshops at Bournemouth University as part of a GP study day. The study day is an annual event when Foundation Year 2 doctors currently in GP, and trainees from the first 2 years of the GP training programme in Dorset come together for a whole day focussed on one topic. Last year’s event was on cancer and this year was titled ‘Transforming health and wellbeing through lifestyle changes’.
I was so pleased to be asked to give a workshop and help bring together a day of learning in a topic I feel is so important – both for the wellbeing of junior doctors themselves, and helping to equip them with some skills to help them discuss lifestyle changes with their patients.
There were some great speakers and topics covered in the morning:
- Nutrition – with Nutritionist and Registered Dietician Anita Bowes.
- This workshop discussed:
- how lifestyle and dietary changes can prevent and even reverse Type 2 diabetes.
- Truths and myths of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and that GPs need the skills to discuss ‘food as treatment’ and the principles of low FODMAP diets with their patients.
- This workshop discussed:
- Exercise – with Dr Kate Little.
- This workshop provided up to date information about the vast health benefits of exercise and how we can help our patients become more active.
- Kate runs a website – physicianburnout.co.uk
- Sleep – with Clinical Psychologist with an interest in sleep behavioural medicine, Gabriella Romano.
- This workshop covered:
- the basics of sleep architecture and science, from circadian rhythms to homeostatic sleep drive.
- Tips for improving the our sleep and that of our patients.
- This workshop covered:
- Mindfulness – with Emma Scattergood.
- This workshop introduced how writing, meditation and yoga could be used to bring some wellbeing into our days.
- Smoking cessation – with Dr Pooja Patwardhan.
- Providing knowledge and tools to help GP trainees empower patients to stop smoking – including safety and efficacy of e-cigargettes and smoking in sub-groups of patients such as pregnancy and those with mental health problems.
- Apps for health – with me!
- I was asked to give a talk focussing on some of the apps available which can help with lifestyle changes for both us and our patients.
- I covered the topics of stress management, sleep, nutrition and movement and why these are important for wellbeing (and how as a country we are doing).
- After going briefly into the science behind each of these I gave examples of tech tools we have at our disposal – such as Calm app, Twilight, and Down dog – along with some non-tech options for improving each of these areas of wellbeing.
- If you’re interested in these apps – check out previous blog posts I’ve done reviewing some of my favourites:
- We all did the first session of ‘7 days of Calm’ to bring calmer more mindful air to the room and give some trainees their first experience at mindful meditation.
At lunchtime there were some stools, raising awareness for trainees about some of the local services, organisations and campaigns they might want to get involved in:
- Mind’s Red January – a campaign run to start your year off well, create new habits which support your mental wellbeing through exercise and raise funds.
- Live well Dorset – a public health organisation which supports any adult living in Dorset on their journey to a happier, healthier life through free advice and coaching. They focus on behavioural science and the application of this, with 4 key pillars of: being more active, losing weight, quitting smoking and drinking less alcohol.
- The Climbing Project Poole – with programmes available to support those with mental health struggles.
- British Society of Lifestyle Medicine (BSLM) – I was asked to hold a stall to talk to GP trainees who were interested about what the BSLM is, what we do and the courses and certification that is offered. I can’t thank the dedicated team at the BSLM office enough for sending me leaflets and some pens, notebooks, tape measures etc to hand out to our trainees. Without them the stall wouldn’t have been possible.
In the afternoon we watched a really thought-provoking play on some of the struggles of life after cancer called ‘The Hurricane’. Both actors have lived through cancer which was diagnosed at a young age. They gave a poignant demonstration of how young adults who have come through treatment for cancer can struggle with life the other side of treatment, such as health anxiety and ‘survivors guilt’. Toby is a trekstock ambassador.
The informal feedback from the day has been brilliant. It was great to see trainees feel empowered to use an evidence-based approach to improve their health and wellbeing, and that of their patients, through optimising lifestyle behaviours. With an ever-growing proportion of GP consultations spent seeing patients with lifestyle-related conditions and the strain managing these chronic conditions is having on our health service, it is vital that those training to become GPs have skills to discuss and manage cases at the root cause of these conditions, and empower patients to make lifestyle behaviour changes which can support them to manage, and even reverse, the challenges they present with.