Peer Support Program

two hands holding a heart, text "Peer Support Program"

Being a physician can be extremely rewarding but it can also be exhausting and draining. With added stress from events such as medical errors, adverse events or patient complaints to name a few, it can be overwhelming.  The majority of physicians would rather go to another peer physician for support than a mental health professional or an employee assistance program in these instances. Peer Support is an empathetic ear from a colleague who has probably gone through something similar to what you are facing right now.

Peer Support Programs are being established across the continent as we acknowledge the importance of physician wellness and the role it plays in health care. We must care for our own health before we can provide the best care for our patients.

Email us at if you need support. Simply put ‘requesting a peer supporter’ in the subject line, you do not need to give any details.

Peer Supporters

Dr. Melissa Andrew, Psychiatry 
Dr. Tara Baetz, Oncology 
Dr. Stephanie Baxter, Ophthalmology
Dr. Erin Brennan, Emergency Medicine
Dr. Suzanne Bridge, Critical Care Medicine
Dr. Steve Brooks, Emergency Medicine
Dr. Christine D’Arsigny, Critical Care Medicine
Dr. John Drover, Critical Care Medicine
Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, Medicine 
Dr. Renee Fitzpatrick, Psychiatry 
Dr. George Gray, Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Dr. Dan Howse, Critical Care Medicine 
Dr. Kelly Howse, Family Medicine
Dr. Melanie Jaeger, Anesthesiology 
Dr. Ruzica Jokic, Psychiatry
Dr. Mala Joneja, Medicine 
Dr. Edmund Jones, Otolaryngology
Dr. Alenia Kysela, Family Medicine 
Dr. Marie Leung, Medicine
Dr. Lysa Lomax, Medicine
Dr. Gillian MacLean, Pediatrics 
Dr. Glykeria Martou, Surgery 
Dr. Mike McMullen, Anesthesiology
Dr. Alex Menard, Radiology 
Dr. Romy Nitsch, Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Dr. Louise Rang, Emergency Medicine 
Dr. Krish Rao, Ophthalmology 
Dr. Andrew Robinson, Oncology
Dr. Shayna Watson, Family Medicine
Dr. Kristi Wood, Surgery
Dr. Boris Zevin, Surgery 


What is a Peer Support Program?

Every physician will undoubtedly go through stressful times at some point in their career. Surveys have shown that the vast majority of physicians would prefer to talk to another peer physician during these difficult times rather than a mental health professional or an employee assistance program. A Peer Support Program offers the opportunity to receive support and a friendly ear from a peer who has probably been in a similar difficult situation that you find yourself in. It is non-judgemental, empathic listening from someone who has been in your shoes. 

What does a peer supporter do?

Peer supporters offer ‘emotional first aid’. We aim to minimize the isolation and feelings of shame that often plague physicians. It is not a therapeutic doctor-patient relationship and the majority are one-time interactions to simply ‘check in’ and offer support.

What if I need more than one meeting?

The peer supporter can help direct you toward finding more regular support options.  

How do I get a peer supporter?

Simply email us at and ask to be connected with a peer supporter. You do not have to give any reason.

If I am offered a peer supporter, does that mean I did something wrong?

No. We are going to routinely reach out to everyone who is undergoing a ‘stressful’ experience in their career such as patient complaints, medicolegal actions or adverse outcomes. This does not mean you made a mistake. We just know that these events are universally experienced as stressful by physicians and we would like to emphasize that you are not alone, we have all gone through it and it is distressing. The peer supporter will not know anything about your situation if they reach out to you, so the information you choose to share will be up to you and remain confidential.

If I am offered a peer supporter, can I refuse?

This program is entirely voluntary, and you can turn down any reach out provided.

How does a peer supporter get assigned?

If our program is contacted by a concerned colleague or Physician Affairs, we will arrange for a peer supporter to reach out. We will do our best to match an appropriate peer supporter with regards to stage of career, type of practice (for instance, procedural-based vs non-procedural) and general fit. It will most likely NOT be someone in your Department as many physicians would prefer some distance from colleagues with whom they interact on a daily basis. 

How is a meeting arranged?

A peer supporter will contact you either by text, phone or email and offer their support. If you would like to take them up on their offer, a mutually convenient time will be arranged. 

What qualifications do peer supporters have?

Our peer supporters, in addition to their experience, interest and genuine caring, have all undergone workshop training with Dr. Jo Shapiro, an expert in the area from Harvard University. They will be undergoing ongoing training and sessions throughout their time as a peer supporter.

Can non-SEAMO physicians access this program?

This program is open to ALL attending physicians. Resident physicians can reach out to the PGME office, if they need help.

Can I be sure that it will remain confidential?

Yes. This program is built on the principle of confidentiality and support in a psychologically safe space.

What does the CMPA say about Peer Support Programs? Can the supporter be asked to reveal the nature of the conversation?

The CMPA is supportive of these programs. It is extremely unlikely that the peer supporter would be asked about the nature of the conversation. No notes are kept and it is unlikely that the peer supporter would recall the interaction in adequate detail to provide any useful information. In the most litigious of the United States, peer supporter programs thrive and are almost never involved in the litigation process. Our Peer Support Program has complied with all the CMPA recommendations pertaining to such programs.

If my lawyer asks if I talked to anyone about this case, what should I say?

You should disclose that you have talked to a peer supporter through the Peer Support Program and that no notes were kept. 

Will there be a paper trail?

No. Notes on the discussion will not be kept, nor will names. The program will only retain statistics on number of support encounters per month, general nature of the stress (personal, work or other) and whether it was a reach-in or we reached out.

Will my Department/Division Chair or hospital leadership know about the peer support provided to me?

No, the program is completely confidential. There is absolutely no feedback to those in leadership positions (such as your Department or Division Head) or to those who evaluate your performance.

If I feel that a colleague is struggling, should I reach out to the Peer Support Program on their behalf?

Yes. Simply email us at  We will confidentially reach out to your colleague and offer our support. We would like to foster this supportive environment and normalize the concept of asking for and receiving help during the periodic struggles all of us invariably face.