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Peer-to-Peer Program Offers Support to Island Physicians

Dr. Michele Murray grew up with strong role models in her life who stressed the importance of a good support system and being readily available to help others in need. It’s no surprise then that in her own career in Family and Emergency Medicine, Dr. Murray agreed to join MSPEI’s recently launched Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Program network, modeled after the work of Dr. Jo Shapiro, founder of the Center for Professionalism and Peer Support at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Dr. Murray is one of several PEI physicians who have stepped up to volunteer their time to train, connect, and provide support to other Island physicians since the P2P program became available last year.

“My father and several other family members were doctors, so I know first-hand the different stresses it can bring to families, the home environment, and to the individual,” Murray said. “We all have our own social groups and colleagues, but sometimes you need someone separate from that to be able to vent and be more open with about struggles you might have… someone who has been there, who understands. That’s where Peer-to-Peer comes in.”

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) is a structured peer support program, which aims to normalize discussions about career-related stressors and provide opportunities to connect, share challenges, express gratitude, and develop coping strategies together. The goal of the program is to reduce work related distress and help physicians find increased meaning and reward in their work.

Dr. Tanya Gallant is a Psychiatrist on PEI who works at the Prince County Hospital, provides in-patient psychiatric care, and offers an outpatient practice through the Harbourside Health Centre. As someone who experienced burnout in her first year of practice, she knows the value of the Peer-to-Peer Program. 

“As physicians, being at our best clinically can be a lot of pressure, especially when there are stresses going on in other parts of our lives. We are human. Sometimes, depending on how your practice is set up or where it’s located, you can also feel isolated,” Gallant said. “Regardless of the reason for needing it, the Peer-to-Peer Program provides an opportunity to connect, share with one another, provide support, and even help direct to other resources or supports as needed.”

The P2P program was designed for physicians by physicians. While it’s not intended to replace clinical counseling or therapy, the Peer-to-Peer Program can be a conduit to accessing clinical support.

“We are here to help,” Gallant said. “We can all use some support at some point in our careers and this program is a great way to access that quickly and confidentially.”

To learn more about the Peer-to-Peer Program or connect with a Peer Supporter, visit: www.mspei.org/peer-to-peer/