Optimas Awards

Ottawa Medicine: Optimas Gold Winner for Managing Change

The Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed an amendment stating that employers are obligated to assess the risks of violence in the workplace.

In Ontario, Canada, aggressive behavior in the workplace is becoming a serious concern.

The Legislative Assembly of Ontario recently passed an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act stating that employers are obligated to assess the risks of violence and harassment in the workplace as often as possible to protect workers.


The University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine, which is in Ontario, found it wasn’t immune to this spreading problem. Some 73 percent of residents have been on the receiving end of this aggressive behavior and 25 percent are uncomfortable to confront the people exhibiting this behavior. These results led them to implement the Crucial Conversations Training program. The two-day program involves role-play exercises and customized scenarios. Staff at Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine were trained to facilitate the program and leaders worked to personalize the workshop based on the most common experiences reported in the Postgraduate Medical Education’s environment.

More than 1,200 faculty, residents and administrators took part in Crucial Conversations Training in the past three years. To measure the impact the program had on minimizing aggressive and disruptive behavior, 78 participants were interviewed and asked about the workshop and its results. The study concluded that harassment, intimidation and racism are practically non-existent and that most participants believed the workshop was relevant to their work. There has also been a decrease in the amount of complaints referred to the Postgraduate Medical Education Professionalism Committee and in the number of complaints resulting in termination.

Brittney Maxfield, director of content and marketing at VitalSmarts, said this was a rewarding way to recognize this initiative.

“We are honored to be recognized in the Workforce Optimas program. What better way to provide the proper recognition for our client, the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, and their change initiative than to get them the credit they deserve with this award?” Maxfield said. “The combination of VitalSmarts training paired with a client who can utilize the skills and principles taught in the course, results in changed behavior worth recognizing.”

For its efforts to create a harassment free environment, The University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine is the Optimas Award Gold winner for Managing Change.

Read about the rest of our 2017 Optimas winners here.