Here for each other: New peer support training opportunity for physician groups in BC

April 13, 2022

A new peer support training program for doctors in BC is seeking physician organizations to take part in a prototype initiative to provide emotional support to colleagues in need. 

As physicians, your triumphs and challenges are unique, and support from trusted colleagues can have a positive impact on your experiences at work and wellbeing. To facilitate responsive local peer support programs which help to enable healthy workplace cultures, the Physician Health Program (PHP) and the Joint Collaborative Committees (JCCs) are partnering to develop a Provincial Physician Peer Support Initiative in BC. The establishment of this peer support training initiative is possible thanks to funding from the Joint Collaborative Committees; and Scotiabank, MD Financial Management Inc., and the Canadian Medical Association as part of the new Physician Wellness+ Initiative, which aims to address the urgent and ongoing health and wellness needs of physicians and medical learners.Physician%20speaking%20to%20coworker%20

In 2021, PHP saw a 93% increase in physicians seeking their services since 2019, which indicates the high demand for physician wellbeing supports in these challenging times. A consultation that year showed 75% of Medical Staff Association (MSA) and Divisions of Family Practice (DoFP) respondents were interested in collaborating to provide peer support.

This program is another in a series of PHP and Doctors of BC initiatives that support physician health and wellness. Others include:

Get involved: Seeking up to 6 prototype physician groups

Informed by this feedback and interest, PHP is seeking up to six local physician organizations to prototype the implementation of this initiative. These local programs will focus on delivering individual, non-clinical emotional peer support. Organizations such as MSAs, Divisions of Family Practice and medical departments will have the autonomy to implement the peer support program tailored to their local community or site, with support from PHP and the JCCs.

The PHP and JCCs will providing formal peer support training provincially to physicians through Dr Jo Shapiro, an Associate Professor with Harvard Medical School and founder of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Centre for Professionalism and Peer Support.

Peer support from colleagues can contribute to a culture where doctors feel comfortable both offering and seeking help. By connecting with someone who shares similar life experiences and knows about the unique challenges of health care, physicians can feel less isolated, have stronger social networks, and the need for more intensive services can be reduced.

Who can apply?

Any existing physician organization such as Medical Staff Associations, Divisions of Family Practice, Sections, hospital departments and others may apply. If you are an individual physician interested in getting involved, you can reach out to a local physician organization and encourage them to apply. If multiple organizations serve physicians within the same geographic location, they can submit a joint application. If you are a physician organization that has already implemented peer support in some shape or form, you are also welcome to join as there will be ongoing connection and collaboration between the various local peer support programs.

There is one-time start-up funding available for the first year of implementation for each of the six prototype sites. More information on this funding will be shared with the selected sites.

To learn more about the commitment involved, read the Terms of Reference. If you have questions about this opportunity, please visit the PHP website for more information or email .

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Doctors of BC continues to respond to the challenges faced by doctors as we continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19 by also addressing systemic challenges that require longer-term strategic change. As part of this, Doctors of BC is working continuously on behalf of our membership to reduce physician burdens

Watch for further upcoming physician wellness announcements over the next number of months from Doctors of BC, and read our President’s Letter (login required) from last fall that announced these important PHP initiatives to support your wellbeing. If you would like to learn more about our other resources, please visit our Physician Health and Safety page