How leaders can support physician wellness

Even before the stress of COVID-19, physicians and medical learners faced unique pressures.   Nearly one-third of doctors, residents and medical students report burnout and depression at some point in their career*. And physicians who struggle to care for themselves can have a harder time caring for others.Leader support is critical in creating change within an organization. By making physician wellness a priority, leaders pave the way for physicians, peers and supervisors to take action for their own health.

Here are some ways to make physician wellness a priority in your own workplace:

  • Talk about it — Talking about wellness challenges is important and healthy. By starting a dialogue, your physicians and staff may realize they’re not alone in their struggle and feel more comfortable seeking help.
  • Walk the walk — Actions speak louder than words. Lead by example and follow through on commitments to support your teams and staff. Be open about your own experience using wellness resources, showing that accessing them is nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Make help accessible — Make wellness resources easily accessible to your team and recognize that while some individuals may feel comfortable discussing the topic openly with their peers, others may prefer to speak in private.
  • Lead with compassion — Remember that physicians are people first; at some point, we’ll all need support and understanding. Remind your staff that to best care for others, they must first care for themselves.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has created the Physician Wellness Hub to help. Featuring hundreds of practical resources, tools and research on everything from burnout and depression to conflict management, the Hub is a searchable, online resource accessible to all.

Created and curated by wellness experts, the Hub aims to provide physicians, medical learners and leaders with the tools they need to improve physician wellness at the individual and system level.

For more information, tips and resources on physician wellness, visit the Hub.

*2017 CMA National Physician Health Survey