What Is Happy Doc Summer Camp?

We spoke with Larry DeLuca, EdD, MD, about his camp for medical professionals, Happy Doc Summer Camp.
Published: July 11, 2018


Why did you guys decide to run a camp for medical professionals?
Well, I'm a healthcare provider myself and I do emergency and critical care so I got to kind of be a personal expert in burnout, and I decided, well you know I need things to help me and make me more well, what else can I do for the people around me? And we know that the statistics are pretty grim. The Level and Lee study that looked at American Veterinary Medical Association people attending a meeting said well how many of you think that burnout is a problem? And 86% said burnout and compassion fatigue are the number 1 wellness issues  veterinarians face. And we know on the human side that 400 physicians a year commit suicide and that 42% of people report being burned out in their profession. So we know there's a lot of people. And moreover when we looked at the AVMA study, they said that 76% of the people who responded didn't feel there were adequate resources. So we're like well 'We can help with that!'

And so how will the summer camp address those issues?
Well in 2 ways. We're dealing with kind of 2 aspects of burnout. The first is sort of the very personal aspect that a lot of people are familiar with so we're gonna talk about the traditional things, you know, improving nutrition, fitness, mindfulness and how those might help you deal with short-term stressors. But even though health care providers characterize burnout for themselves in very personal terms—like they feel less motivated for their job, they're more short with colleagues—they talk a lot of times about systemic issues as being the cause of that burnout. So they talk about things like everything from the electronic health record to too many bureaucratic tasks and paperwork to lack of respect for administration and even sometimes their colleagues. So what we want to do is help identify what the literature says about those systemic causes and also help empower people to be able to fix those systemic causes in their workplace. And so what are some of the activities attendees can expect? Well, all sorts of things. Of course there's the programming, but that's kind of spread out because we didn't want to have people just running from room to room going from workshop to workshop, we wanted to leave them time since it's summer camp to have fun. So there's all sorts of activities at the camp—everything from the zipline, there's kayaking, my favorite the inflatable obstacle course, and then things like a driving range and volleyball and all sorts of outdoor activities. And of course because we're a summer camp there's going to be s'mores at a campfire.

And so how long is the camp session?
The sessions going to last about 4 days, so people are going to arrive on Sunday, August 26 and that's just sort of a day to chill hang out and get to know the place. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are programming activities and then Thursday morning is say goodbye to your new friends have breakfast and make plans for next year.

And so what sort of CE will be offered at Happy Docs Summer Camp?
Well they'll be sixteen units total of continuing ed and of course that's if you want to go to it all, you can go to some or all or none. The important thing is that you come and you have an experience that's a value for you so we know that's continuing education is a really important part of that. The lectures are approved through the University of Arizona and several of the workshops for continuing ed. You can find the details about that on the website as that will tell you which workshops are for CE and which are for just personal enrichment.

And how does that compare to like a convention or conference that a veterinarian might normally go to?
Well, I think our pricing is actually pretty favorable. So, you know without getting down to a dollar for dollar, we're actually providing all of this including the camp style lodging and the food, the beverages, and transport to and from the airport at a package price that we think is actually pretty  affordable for people because we really, really want people to be there and if we price it so that people can't afford to be there, then we haven't done our job—and our job is to make people feel good and feel well. And so where is the summer camp? The summer camp is in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania at Pocono Valley Resort, and it is 370 acres of just terrificness.

That sounds awesome. And what days are this year's camp?
This year's camp is gonna be from August 26 to 30.

And how can veterinary professionals learn more about the camp?
Oh that's actually really easy; there's a couple of ways. You can go to our main website for the event, which is www.happydocsummercamp.com—all 1 word, spelled like it sounds. Our educational programs are run through Angels of Hippocrates, which is our 501c3 nonprofit organization and if you go to www.angels-of-hypocrites.org you can read more about the educational branch of Happy Doc Summer Camp. And if you want to download the event calendar you can actually do that on your mobile phone. Go to the app store, either the Apple one or the Android store, and search for Happy Doc and you'll find the event schedule planner it's free app just download it to your phone and you can not only see the whole program, but you can make notes about what you want to do, you can leave your evals, and all sorts of stuff.

And so this camp is not just for veterinarians it's for everybody on staff?
Absolutely, so veterinarians, technicians, practice administrators and on the human side too you know doctors, nurses, techs, therapists. What we wanted to do is make this available to everybody. There are different practice niches and different specialties and some of the stresses of burnout and compassion fatigue are unique to those, but the main core of what we're about is applicable pretty much to everybody. So we're gonna make sure we try to have something for everyone and make sure that people come away having felt like they've gotten something of value, they've learned something, and they got some new tools in their toolkit to fight burnout and have their job be a better place to work.

Well thank you so much for speaking with us today and good luck with your inaugural camp.
Well thank you so much and maybe we'll see you there!

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