20 responses to “Taking care of each other during COVID-19 – peer support for physicians”

  1. Very helpful to read this right now! As a small community doc I have often identified isolation as an issue, now more than ever. I will be trying some of these options!

  2. This information was very useful. This may be more difficult to set up in an urban setting

  3. Very helpful! I find it important to have options being a rural health professional.

  4. Thank you -this is very helpful in this time. Difficult to do in small groups/practises

  5. I have been providing peer support to colleagues for many years. Our community was one of the first to have a physician wellness program in BC. Connecting and supporting one another has been the key to creating collegiality and breaking down the code of silence our medical training instills.

    FH recently hosted a Forum for our Physician Wellness Champions and peer support was the workshop requested by the champions. The learnings you shared are exactly what we taught. I totally agree with your statements that physicians have the skills to do peer support, being openly vulnerability is important, and there is no perfect way to reach out to support one another: just reach out, show you care and listen, don’t fix. Modeling this behaviour is contagious.

  6. I really appreciated the thoughts and ideas in this article. I am wondering if anyone knows of such a group in Vancouver or would be interested in starting a peer support group?

  7. Very relevant as I have retired my office based medical practice only 6 weeks ago , just before Covid 19

    I am planning to rest my body and mind
    Plan an exercise yoga meditation schedule

    My vulnerability: No solid peer group anymore
    Used to be part of PBSG small group
    As my burn out continued I felt less supported and could not reach out as the format was more formal. Also I was adding some cosmetic services. At present that is at a stop.

    Peers comments suggestions very much appreciated

  8. Thank you for writing this and highlighting it. I remember opening up to a colleague about how burned out I was, and him looking at me like I had three heads and just going on with his sentence. Safety is so pivotal, but unfortunately, those “safe” colleagues can sometimes feel few and far between.

  9. Thank you. Timely and beautifully written.

  10. After more than 20 years of clinical practice, I continue to learn daily. Peer support as above, and as in Sara’s “Voices in my Head” podcast, has been present on and off during my career. When present, I am more grounded and resilient. When absent, I am alone, small, fearful.
    Doctor Leaders are beginning to recognise and respond to the need for peer support, self-compassion and community in order that we become our “grittiest” selves. Much more of this work is needed. I applaud the work of Connie (above) and other wellness champions across BC.
    I encourage all to review this powerful submission, with a lens inward.

  11. I have the absolute pleasure and honour to work with Tandi on some of these projects in the Kootenay Boundary.
    Supporting each other always and through these difficult times is paramount in allowing physicians to be in their full potential. I am constantly in awe of my colleagues and truly want to see them thriving. As department head of family practice for 6 years, I felt like I was the maestro of a world class orchestra. I only hope that I can be a contribution in helping these amazing physicians move through this pandemic.

  12. Good Article; I will wholeheartedly recommend Meditation (10-20 minutes/day, preferably in the morning, before one starts a busy day), Regular aerobic exercise, & attention to a healthy diet.

    Meditation can be of various types; Vipassana Meditation is, apparently, very popular in the Vancouver & Victoria (I live in Edmonton), but even the Mindfulness Meditation & Qi – Gong Classes, Are easy to find in most areas (urban & rural).

    Certainly peer-support groups are invaluable, but difficult to find in urban areas.

  13. Thank you Tandi for sharing this with us! I am reminded that I am not alone. I appreciate you so much.

  14. Thank you Dr Tandi for your honesty and bringing this to light so beautifully. I think we all need peer support that is honest and non-judgemental and non-threatening. To that end, I have found the PBSG program extremely valuable. What starts off as a group of learners usually becomes a group of peers who understand and support each other. Chosen wisely, group members will be that. For those who have never tried the PBSG program, I would highly recommend it.
    Even you live remotely, you would be able to join a group virtually.
    Let all of us always be kind and non-judgemental in our support for our peers.

  15. Excellent, excellent info here. There needs to be a more concise version for a wider audience as many lay people could benefit from this info.

  16. I strongly support this.
    This should be part of all Medical Curriculums. It will prevent unnecessary suffering.

  17. Thank you so much Dr. Tandi for an excellent article and the links enclosed. I too have experienced burnout and poor confidence in certain cases in Emerg and the OR, related to horrible past cases. I was afraid to reach out to my colleagues for support as it had not gone well when I’d done that previously. We work hard to listen effectively to patients but not as often with each other. The situation we now find ourselves in causes unprecedented stress to caregivers and patients alike, and your article could not be more timely. I plan to start giving better peer support immediately. Best wishes to you and thank you for all you do.

  18. I forwarded this article to everyone I know (none of them doctors!).

    This speaks volumes to me about what the world needs right now.

    We ALL need to ask for help and we need to recognize this:

    “It requires someone who has the emotional capacity for the conversation, and the ability to put their own reactions in the parking lot. If the peer is triggered by your story, they can’t support you.”

    It is up to each individual to find these people for themselves. If we wait until we’re drowning in burnout and expect the first person we reach out to from desperation to be the one to “save us,” we are not in a good position to recognize that person may indeed not be able to support us and it has nothing to do with us.

    So good. Please please please continue to share this.

  19. I join all the other commenters in applauding Dr. T Wilkinson for a wonderful article, and lots of good advice. I am a retired female Family Doctor, and my son is an ER doctor. I think he could benefit from peer support, as he is juggling his busy front-line ER work during this pandemic, while functioning as a husband and father of two small children. He is clearly carrying his stress/distress, but unwilling to discuss it.
    As I was reading the article, I suspected that this advice would be most welcomed by women. I notice that almost all the commenters are women. I want to remind everyone that men, on average, are not good at communicating feelings. Unfortunately, those same men are unlikely to take this information to heart. I wonder what proportion of the doctors participating with Dr. Wilkinson’s peer support group are male? How can anyone help them see the wisdom in these self care activities, before they reach their own “breaking point” &/or “burn out”?

  20. Thank you so much for your vulnerability and for giving of yourself in this article. As a midwife diagnosed last year with C-PTSD triggered by workplace bullying and harassment, I have very little faith in finding safety in colleagues. This gives me hope that someday I will be able to practice again.

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