Feature: Taking action on wellness

Jennifer Parraga, BA’93

Photograph of Dr. Laura FoxcroftDr. Laura Foxcroft’s appointment as the Assistant Dean, Faculty Wellbeing in October 2020 rounded out the Clinical Faculty Affairs team at the School. As a member of the team, she joined Drs. Andrea Lum and Bill McCauley in leading the overall clinical faculty wellbeing program that is based on the Peers for Peers model.

“It’s very exciting to work on such a strong team,” said Dr. Foxcroft. “Wellbeing and professional behavior are so intertwined, and the structure of the team provides great opportunities to work together. While Bill is focused on resolution, my job is more about restoring wellbeing.”

Passionate about physician wellbeing and academic mentorship, Dr. Foxcroft says her upbringing in a small town and the mentorship she received from a local country doctor serve as inspirations for her interests in this area.

Dr. Foxcroft first put her interest into action in the School’s Division of Emergency Medicine, where she serves as an associate professor. She designed and implemented the role of Provider Value Officer in Emergency Medicine, which focused on academic mentorship and wellbeing of physicians within the division.

Dr. Foxcroft believes this role and its initial work served as an important catalyst to more public discussion of physician job satisfaction, burnout and wellness. She says that while it didn’t solve all the problems, it led to the implementation of programs and conversations and demonstrated how much faculty wellbeing was valued.

In addition to focusing on her own division, Dr. Foxcroft enacted change at the Schulich level. She contributed to mentoring and guiding faculty through her co-leadership of workshops, including How to Get Promoted: Clinical Academics from Assistant to Associate Professor. And she has been instrumental in providing workshops to guide other departments in the implementation of the Schulich Faculty Mentorship Program.

Coming into her new role in the midst of the pandemic means that Dr. Foxcroft is focused on providing support in the moment.

“I have seen the struggle for balance and wellbeing. And right now, we have to support our faculty in getting through the pandemic,” she said. “My goal is to provide acute resources and help wherever and whenever I can.”

Wellbeing Leads through the Peers for Peers Support Program are important in supporting wellness. The Leads are clinical faculty members trained to provide emotional support and resources to their peers. Established in the spring of 2020, there have been more than 200 encounters with the Peers for Peers Support Program.

Dr. Foxcroft’s long-term goal is that all clinical faculty at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry will feel supported and have a mentorship committee to support them regardless of academic rank. This will allow them to experience satisfaction, productivity, and wellbeing throughout their academic careers.

Like most of her physician colleagues, Dr. Foxcroft wears lots of hats in her life and tries to balance it all. For her, wellbeing is a sense of balance that stems from personal and professional life and as an academic physician, this encompasses career satisfaction and productivity.

Grateful for the busyness of her three children, Dr. Foxcroft says that their schedules, her home life and friendships are protective mechanisms that provide important and valuable balance in her life. She also exercises daily.

“It helps to have that time to put my life in perspective and to have reflective time on my schedule and what’s important to me and my energies,” she said.

Working on the frontlines in emergency medicine, Dr. Foxcroft says she is more hopeful than she was during the first wave of the pandemic.

“The second wave is different, we have lots of PPE, and when it’s used with diligence, I know I am safe. I feel more hope this time around especially with the introduction of the vaccine,” she said.

She continues to dedicate her time to supporting her colleagues and restoring their wellbeing. And she’s excited to work with the Clinical Faculty Affairs team.

“No other place in Canada has structured things like we have, I’m hopeful for how the office will take off and that it will be a rich resource for faculty.”