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Physician Health

Staying Healthy

Physician Health and Wellness is a shared responsibility among individual physicians, the organizations and systems in which they work, and institutions that influence, shape and support physician medical culture. There are actions each can take to improve Physician Health and Wellness.

Physician Health and Wellness

Doctors Manitoba is committed to strengthening and supporting the whole physician. In order to do this, we work to ensure that every physician has the support they need to deliver exceptional care to Manitobans. A significant part of this work is advocating for the health and wellness of our members. 

Research tells us that 30% of Manitoba’s and Canada’s physicians and medical learners were already experiencing burnout prior to the pandemic, especially residents, female physicians, and those in their first five years of practice. We also know that physicians are experiencing high rates of depression and suicidal ideation, with residents and female physicians most at risk.

Doctors Manitoba has supported the development of physician-led health and wellness services for decades through the Physician and Family Support Program, Physicians at Risk, and MDCare. We know that comprehensive physician health programming needs to encompass prevention and reducing stigma for help seeking behaviours, have treatment programs specific to the needs to physicians and medical learners and move beyond the focus on individual interventions. The organizations and systems also need to be healthy. Healthy environments for physicians mean better outcomes for patients. Part of our work since 2019 has been to implement a Community of Practice Project in three rural and northern health regions. The project brings physicians and lead health administrators together to design specific actions to improve organizational and system level responses to physician health and wellness.

Physicians

Many individual actions have a positive impact on physician health and wellness. We have highlighted a few here but encourage you to put together your own, personalized, self-maintenance toolkit. If you are experiencing concerning signs or symptoms, reach out for help.

Seek or Provide Support

Self-screening | Self-awareness | Self-assessment
(These tools are not a substitution for talking to someone.)

Evidence indicates physicians have difficulty accurately assessing their own level of distress. In one study, the majority of surgeons with the lowest levels of well-being believed themselves to be at or above average levels.The use of tools can help you assess your own levels of distress or wellness and motivate behaviour change.

Search the Physician Wellness Hub’s Resource Centre for additional tools 

Tools for on the go’

  • STOP — Stop, Take a breath, Observe your thoughts/​emotions/​body, Proceed (used in the Ottawa Hospital)
  • What is my colour right now? Green, Yellow, Orange, Red. Adapted from Canadian Armed Forces by Drs. Kerri Ritchie & Caroline Gérin-Lajoie, The Ottawa Hospital

Financial Wellness

Doctors Manitoba Benefits & Insurance

Pandemic Financial Support
Organizations and Systems

Research has shown that organization-directed workplace interventions can lessen physician burnout, in some cases more than physician-directed interventions. As a result, Doctors Manitoba’s is working with three regional health authorities as part of the Physician Health and Wellness Community of Practice Project to improve organizational and system level responses to physician health and wellness.

Physician leadership plays an important role in the wellness of physicians. Specific training in leadership can contribute to healthier organizational and system cultures. 

The Medical Profession

Doctors Manitoba takes its own part in improving physician health and wellness seriously. In developing our new strategic plan we made advocating for the health and wellness of our members one of our 5 strategic pillars. We also work with other profession stakeholders to advocate for the best interests of the whole physician.

Doctors Manitoba

University of Manitoba: Wellness: Rady Faculty of Health Sciences

College of Physicians and Surgeons Physician Health Program

Addressing Stigma

Physicians in distress often report being too ashamed to seek help”. In order to be effective, anti-stigma programs must work on multiple levels” — Mental Health and Stigma in the Medical Profession” Jean Wallace, Health, 2010

Awareness

Physicians appear to underestimate the prevalence of burnout and depression among colleagues (Multiple-Institution Comparison of Resident and Faculty Perceptions of Burnout and Depression During Surgical Training ). We now know that, for Canadian physicians, fatigue has increased by 69% over the last year, with 64% of physicians experiencing anxiety around the pandemic and that the CMA results are representative of Manitoba respondents. 

Hope

Interventions to reduce burnout in physicians can result in important benefits. Most doctors who are treated for mental health successfully return to work … [and] physicians who enter intensive addiction treatment followed by comprehensive long-term aftercare and monitoring, have long-term success rates of 70 to 90%” — Mental Health and Stigma in the Medical Profession