New programs supporting physician wellness

October 7, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted physicians around the province, all of whom are experiencing greater stress and burnout. In fact, the Physician Health Program has never been busier, experiencing a 58% increase in the number of physicians seeking help since 2019. While Doctors of BC has made every effort to meet the needs of physicians in urgent need of help, your Association is taking steps to expand our approach to support wellness with the introduction of a series of new programs.

We want to be clear about something. We recognize that burnout is often driven by systemic issues. What we are describing here are initiatives that complement the substantial and ongoing efforts of Doctors of BC to address systemic concerns such as the impact of COVID-19, the primary care crisis, waitlists for procedures, workload issues for alternately-funded physicians, and the ever-present burden of paperwork and administrative tasks. It is also important to develop innovative programs that aim to prevent burnout by facilitating heathier work environments and tackle significant challenges such as stigma around seeking help.

Using $1 million provided by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), Scotiabank, and MD Financial Management’s Physician Wellness+ Initiative funding, Doctors of BC will enhance existing programs and develop new ones to meet the current and future wellness needs of the profession. The Joint Collaborative Committees are also key contributors in strategic planning and funding to support local, grassroots efforts that are critical to success.

The new programs are:

  • Physician Wellness Network – A network offering ongoing opportunities for communication, networking, sharing of ideas, and strategic alignment of wellness activities for those involved with MSAs, Divisions, public health, UBC’s resident doctors, and others.  
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Skills Training – Skill-building for physicians to better support patients with mild-moderate mental health issues, and to also apply to their own health and wellness. A PHP physician-cohort pilot in the fall of 2020 generated interest from 170+ physicians for 15 spots. CBT training will be offered by the Shared Care Committee.
  • Physician Peer Support Network – PHP will train physicians across the province to deliver one-to-one emotional peer support. Evidence shows that physician peer support helps to foster a culture where physicians feel comfortable seeking and offering help.
  • Expansion of PHP Family Doctor Connection Service – PHP will engage with Divisions of Family Practice to increase the capacity to attach physicians with their own personal primary care physician.

The CMA, Scotiabank, and MD Financial Management Physician Wellness+ Initiative funds have been directed to physician organizations across the country for the next four years to address the urgent and ongoing health and wellness needs of physicians and medical trainees. 

The CBT and Peer Support programs are in the early stages of planning and development, and prototyping is starting this Winter 2021 until Spring 2022. Watch for updated information as these programs are developed and evolve.

Again, we recognize that wellness does not begin and end with wellness programs. Wellness requires that we collaborate on systemic issues, overcome burdens, and improve our healthcare culture. However, we hope that these programs will meet some important needs identified by our members, demonstrate Doctors of BC’s commitment to physician wellness, and make an impact for all of us who are living through some of the most challenging times in our lives.

Sincerely, 

Dr Matthew Chow
President, Doctors of BC 


Programs to support physicians:

BC Physician Health Program

  • Offers confidential support, counselling, referral and health system navigation support for physicians, medical trainees and their families.
  • PHP’s 24/7 Confidential Helpline: 1 800 663 6729 Email:

PHP Virtual Physician Peer Support Group Sessions 

  • Free drop-in Zoom meetings every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month at 12pm.

Wellness Connection (CMA)

  • A virtual, safe space for physicians and medical learners to gather and discuss shared experiences, get support, seek advice, and help each other.

Physician Wellness Hub (CMA):

  • Provides original CMA content and curated resources and information from trusted sources for physicians, residents, and medical students seeking guidance and self-help.