Need for Change
COVID-19 has helped shine light on issues surrounding physician health and wellness. There is a stoicism within the culture of medicine, arising from an admirable mix of resilience and commitment. We are all familiar with the image of the dedicated physician, who suffers in silence, shouldering their burdens alone. This needs to change. We need to move to a professional culture of collegial support where physicians can get help without feeling stigmatized.
Supporting physician health is a priority for the College. Simply put, the healthy and supported physician provides better care. Moreover, the public is owed protection from the physician too unwell to safely practice.
Our focus is to sensitively approach the matter with utmost emphasis on physician confidentiality and patient safety. Our goal is to maintain physicians in safe practice, to the extent their health permits.
Duty to Report
The College becomes aware of physician health issues through a variety of channels. Physicians have a professional and ethical duty to report health conditions that may negatively affect their practice or the practice of a colleague or patient. Occasionally, physician health issues are uncovered in the investigation of complaints. When this occurs, the matter is moved from a disciplinary stream to a physician health stream. Irrespective of how the College becomes involved, our focus is to sensitively approach the matter with utmost emphasis on physician confidentiality and patient safety. Our goal is to maintain physicians in safe practice, to the extent their health permits.
Every situation regarding physician health is unique. Although our program does not provide direct treatment, we can connect physicians to available resources, including Doctors Nova Scotia’s Professional Support Program and the many resources available through the CMA’s Physician Wellness Hub.