Disciplinary Action Support
If you are facing disciplinary action, a number of resources exist to support you:
- The Medical Staff Rules and Medical Staff Bylaws define the processes and expectations around discipline and behaviour.
- The Enhanced Medical Staff Support process is outlined in a comprehensive toolkit.
- For situations involving one physician, the Doctors of BC Regional Advisor and Advocate is available to support you
- Confidential Peer Support is available through the South Island MSA
- The Canadian Medical Protective Association provides medico-legal help and advice
- Not sure where to go? Let us know and we can help.
The Greater Victoria Physician Peer Support Pilot Program offers short-term, one-on-one peer support to doctors across our region. Our local Peer Supporters are trained and available to listen to their colleagues and help guide through next steps. This pilot is expected to run until Sept 2023, after which we will evaluate it's success and develop a long-term plan.
To request to be connected to a Peer Supporter, click here.
Questions? Contact us at PeerSupport@southislandmsa.ca
Peer Support is not intended for crisis response. The Physician Health Program is available 24/7 at 1.800.663.6729
What is peer support?
Peer support encourages an authentic human connection with another person who shares similar life experiences – in this case, the unique stressors and challenges faced by physicians. Peers offer confidential, non-judgmental listening and non-clinical support with life, work and other issues.
Peer support is distinct from (1) therapy, (2) mentorship where an experienced peer is providing clinical or career advice, and (3) direct clinical care.
While Peer Supporters are here to listen, issues such as suicidality, substance use, mental health concerns, and personal medical advice are out of scope. However, they can connect you with appropriate services.
What are the goals of peer support?
- Create a safe space for peers to share experiences and seek emotional support
- Listen non-judgmentally, validate and empathize with the experiences of peers
- Empower peers to recognize existing strengths and resources, and build on coping strategies that work for them
- Connect peers with community resources if they need support beyond the scope of peer support
- Promote a broader sense of community and a positive, supportive workplace culture
When might someone benefit from peer support?
Peer support might be helpful for physicians who experience work or life stressors and require emotional, non-judgmental support. Examples of these scenarios might be:
- Adverse clinical event (including but not limited to an adverse patient outcome)
- Patient or college complaint
- Interpersonal/relational conflict with a patient or colleague
- Acute life stressor which impacts career (e.g. birth of a new child or bereavement)
- Struggles with burnout/moral injury
- A change that has happened at work that impacts you emotionally
Which Greater Victoria physicians provide peer support?
All physicians provide informal peer support to each other! The following have participated in peer support training and are currently involved in the Greater Victoria Physician Peer Support Pilot:
- Dr. Shana Johnston
- Dr. Jenn Lee
- Dr. Cheryl Cuddeford
- Dr. Jessica Fry
- Dr. Lloyd Hildebrand
- Dr. Tyler Cheek
- Dr. Michelle Tousignant
How does matching take place?
When a peer support request is received, program administrators will match physicians to Peer Supporters based largely on availability. Career stage and pre-existing professional connections may also play a role.
If a physician has a special demographic request such as gender, specialty, race, etc., program administrators will try to accommodate. The scope of peer support and the training provided aims to enable all Peer Supporters to emotionally support any colleague regardless of their demographics.
Once a match takes place, physicians will be connected with their Peer Supporter.
What do peer support interactions look like?
Peer support is short-term, emotional, non-clinical support. It is not therapy, clinical advice or mentorship.
The conversation modality (in-person, virtual, or by phone) will be mutually decided between the Peer Supporter and referred physician. Generally, peer support relationships will be short term in nature (1-3 conversations). If the referred physician requires support beyond a few conversations, the Peer Supporter will offer an appropriate referral.
Peer support can be very useful if you are feeling upset about an adverse patient event or a tough clinical case, but a clinical discussion is out of scope for a Peer Supporter. If you want to talk about your case and mention clinical aspects, that’s okay. Your Peer Supporter can give you the space to talk about it and will focus on the emotional pieces of your experience. If you need clinical input on a patient, the RACE line is a great place to start.
As this is a pilot program, a short evaluation will be sent at the conclusion of peer support interactions.
How confidential is peer support?
Confidentiality is integral to the success of a peer support interaction. Peer Supporters sign confidentiality agreements following their training. These conversations are discoverable from a legal perspective, so Peer Supporters do not take written notes during interactions and do not focus on the details of the situation. Rather, they focus on the emotional impact of the situation and coping strategies.
You connecting with a Peer Supporter is your private decision. Your request for support will not be reported to the College, Island Health, or your colleagues.
There are rare cases where confidentiality must be broken, such as when a physician is at risk of harming themselves or others, or if a Peer Supporter has a direct reason to believe that someone is at risk for unsafe behaviour. These are the same reasons a Peer Supporter may have to break confidentiality in their everyday clinical practice as a physician.
How can I become a Peer Supporter?
We’re currently compiling a list of Victoria-area physician interested in becoming a Peer Supporter. We’d be happy to add your name to it – let us know! We hope to arrange training when we have enough interested physicians.
I still have questions…
Contact us at PeerSupport@southislandmsa.ca