What is Physician Peer Support?

Physicians face unique stressors and challenges which are often best understood by other physicians because they share similar life experiences. Peer support is an evidence-based approach to support physician wellness that is characterized by a genuine human connection between people, non-judgmental listening, and providing non-clinical support for another physician experiencing challenges in their professional or personal life.

Studies show that physician peer support can be effective in contributing to a culture where physicians feel more comfortable seeking and offering help. Those who use peer support show a reduced need for intensive services, reduced isolation, improved coping and self-management skills, and have stronger social networks (Campbell & Leaver)

Critical components of the peer support model are confidentiality, assessing for risk and safety, non-clinical care, and connecting physicians and learners to other resources and/​or clinical care when appropriate.

For more information about how you can more effectively support your physician colleagues, click here.

Facilitated Peer Support Groups and 1:1 Peer Support

Group peer support brings together people who share a lived or living experience and provides a confidential, safe space where peers can listen without judgment, share insights, and provide hope and encouragement to one another. Peer support is confidential and, though peer support may complement clinical approaches, it is not clinical treatment or therapy. It is an evidence-based approach shown to improve coping and self-management skills while lessening distress. With the recent increase in funding from the new Physician Services Agreement, we have expanded the number of physician peer support groups offered, particularly for equity-deserving DRMB members. Learn more about them here.

As a part of the Physicians at Risk (PAR) program, Dr. Shelley Anderson, the Doctors Manitoba Physician Health and Wellness Medical Lead, offers weekly hybrid (in person or virtual) confidential peer support gatherings with a recovery focus. This is an opportunity to meet and talk with other physicians and learners who are seeking support for the challenges they are facing in their personal or professional life such as burnout, depression, anxiety and substance use concerns. Dr. Anderson also provides non-clinical 1:1 peer support for medical learners, resident physicians, retired physicians and physicians. If you’d like to attend a peer support meeting or connect 1:1 with Dr. Anderson, call PAR confidentially at (204) 2378320 for more information.

Peer Support Pilot Project

Doctors Manitoba has partnered with WellDoc Canada to launch three peer support pilot project sites in Manitoba. These formal peer support teams help promote physician wellness at the system-level and allows groups to have an available peer support resource for their physician members to access when they are dealing with personal or professional challenges.

Working closely with organization leaders and physician coordinators, we have partnered with the Department of Family Medicine, the Section of General Internal Medicine, Prairie Mountain Health, and Northern Health Region to recruit, train, and implement peer support teams.

This project has been funded by the generous support of Manitoba Health.

For more information, email Kate McIntyre, the Doctors Manitoba Physician Peer Support Project Coordinator, at kmcintyre@​doctorsmanitoba.​ca.