Difficult events happen to all physicians at some point in their careers. These can include involvement in a stressful event, caring for trauma victims, facing a colleague’s illness / death, or confronting potential litigation. These events can lead to various negative emotional consequences, including a sense of isolation, self-doubt, depression, rumination, and anxiety.
It is important physicians don’t feel alone under these circumstances. Yet, research shows physicians generally do not acknowledge or openly discuss their personal reactions to these events. If not attended to, these emotional reactions can lead to burnout and further distress. Studies have shown that talking to a trained peer facilitates coping and resilience after an adverse event. In response to this research, in 2018 the Spectrum Physician Peer Support Program was created.
How do you get connected with a peer supporter?
The goal of the peer support program is to reach out to every physician who experiences to a difficult event. After a known event, as a matter of routine, all involved physicians will be contacted.
To refer a physician, or to self-refer, please send an email to the program coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 207.482.7812. The program coordinator will match the physician with a peer supporter within 24 hours. For weekend referrals, the match will be made within 48 hours. Strict confidentiality is maintained.
How does the process work?
- Connection is established through the program coordinator.
- Peer supporter reaches out directly.
- Outreach is an invitation. If peer does not want to talk, supporter expresses understanding and lets them know peer support is available if they want it in the future. Supporter asks permission to email the peer information regarding coping strategies and further resources.
- If peer does want to talk, an in-person meeting or phone call is scheduled by supporter and peer.
- A one-time peer support meeting is held. Occasionally there is a follow-up.
What are physicians saying about peer support programs?
“Just having someone neutral check in specifically about my well-being was comforting. I felt incredibly supported and it was nice that there were not secondary motives behind the support (i.e. data gathering about the incident, etc.).”
“Thank you for taking time to talk to me, it made things much clearer. Thank you also for the additional resources you sent so promptly.”
“Great addition for our physicians, as we often feel the need to sort through these issues alone.”