Physicians' health matters too
Physicians deserve support to cope with emotional stressors and distress, especially in challenging times and vulnerable moments, when feeling burnout, or facing a difficult personal life circumstance.
Sometimes that support is formal with therapy and counselling (e.g., Lifeworks Program offered through Doctors of BC), and sometimes support is informal, confidential conversations with other physicians who share lived experiences.
Peer support at VCH
Launched in 2022 by VCH in partnership with several medical staff associations, the VCH Physician Peer Support Program (PPSP) offers informal peer support to physicians experiencing a difficult time. This can include a mental health and/or substance use concern, college complaint, audit issue, workplace challenge/critical incident, trauma or uncertainty.
Through the VCH PPSP, physicians can connect with a physician peer for support and guidance that is empathetic, safe, confidential, one-to-one, short-term, and at no cost.
Physicians who seek support through the program will:
The relationship between a physician and peer supporter is collegial and non-professional; it does not involve therapy, clinical treatment or diagnosis.
How to get support
1. What is the value of a peer support program?
Studies show that physicians prefer to seek support from other physicians, specifically those who have shared experiences. A peer support system can strengthen the culture of trust with a colleague who shares a similar lived experience as a physician.
2. How many peer supporters are involved in the PPSP?
More than 40 physician peer supporters are volunteers from across VCH's communities of care and have a range of practice areas and specialities.
3. What kind of training do peer supporters get?
They received training by Dr. Jo Shapiro, founder of the Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Professionalism and Peer Support, through the accredited Peers for Peers course at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry Wellbeing Program at the University of Western Ontario, in a coaching session by Dr. John Van Aerde, Executive Medical Director of the Canadian Society of Physician Leaders and the Founding Editor of the Canadian Journal of Physician Leadership, and through the Physician Health Program of BC.
4. How can physicians get formal help with their mental health and wellness?
For counselling and therapy, physicians can contact Lifeworks Program offered through Doctors of BC.