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How physicians supporting their peers?
Prince George shares insights as a pilot site for the Peer Support Program offered by Doctors of BC's Physician Health Program (PHP), and how is helping physicians who are experiencing work or life-related stressors that impact their well-being.

2024 Lightning Talk: Physician Peer Support Program –  Dr Ingrid Cosio, Physician Lead, Prince George MSA Peer Support, Prince George Medical Staff Physician Association (photo); and Tom Rapanakis, Director, Physician Health Program

Partnerships for wellness

MSAs and divisions of family practice are partnering with the Doctors of BC Physician Health Program (PHP) and the Joint Collaborative Committees (JCCs) to develop peer support programs that suit local needs.

  • The aim is to facilitate emotional, non-clinical peer support for physicians who are experiencing work or life-related stressors such as moral distress, patient complaints, and life changes that impact their well-being. It is a form of psychological first aid.
  • PHP and the JCCs provide funding, centralized expertise, provincial peer support training, collaboration opportunities, and resources to empower the local physicians leaders to build peer support programs.

Learning from pilots

Prince George was one of five pilot sites for the PHP peer support initiative in 2022. Dr Ingrid Cosio, a family doctor and physician lead for the project, noted important learnings.

  • >Culture: physicians are accustomed to serving others and may not be ready to admit they need extra support or reach out to local peers. Surveys are helpful to understand and overcome these barriers.
  • Comfort: in smaller medical communities, getting support from outside of the community may be more comfortable for some physicians. PHP has facilitated an inter-site matching process to help address that issue.
  • Communication: awareness can be built at department meetings, physician meetings, social events and wellness events, meetings, and through promotional materials and onboarding packages. 

Peer Support Program activities across BC  (2023/24)

  • Two peer support training sessions held with 63 physician peer supporters from 11 physician organizations.|
  • 30 peer support interactions between five pilot groups.
  • 57% accessed peer mentors through "reach ins" – connecting with the program themselves. 
  • 43% connected with peers through "reach outs"  a colleague or leader in the organization noticed that someone was in distress, notified the program, and the peer supporters reached out to physician in distress. 
  • Two facilitated debrief group sessions held where peer supporters confidentially discuss and debrief challenging peer support cases. It’s an opportunity to safely explore their experiences, and for new mentors learn from real life examples. 

“The impacts are increasing awareness and dialogue about vulnerability and medicine, normalizing our humanity and increasing that interconnectedness in our community. We’ve had growth from our peer support group from five to now eight peer supporters that represent a diverse range of people at different stages of their career and lives.”  – Dr Ingrid Cosio


Any physician organization including MSAs, hospital departments, divisions of family practice, sections, and others may apply.

See Peer Support Initiative website and contact: 


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