Supporting physician wellness: an essential part of CMPA’s assistance

Published March 2020

CMPA Physician Advisors are available to provide support throughout the pandemic and can be reached at 1-800-267-6522 Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET or through the CMPA member portal.

Dealing with the complexities of medical practice, including ones like receiving notice of a legal action or a College or hospital complaint, can leave physicians with a range of emotions. Confusion, disappointment, and self-doubt can accompany guilt and shame. The anxiety and stress may result in difficulties at work, affecting a physician’s overall health and well-being and potentially impacting the ability to deliver safe medical care.

Faced with such a situation, physicians in Canada turn to the Canadian Medical Protective Association for assistance and support. We assist our members with the many concerns that affect the delivery of care, but that’s only the beginning. Our support extends to helping members cope with the stress associated with medical-legal difficulties and, if needed, guiding them to resources to help them get better.

Physicians supporting physicians

Dr. Paul Farnan
West Vancouver, BC

When you as a member contact the CMPA, you will be connected with one of our physician advisors—an experienced physician who has likely dealt with similar matters, either personally while in practice or through advising other members.

In a series of new videos, now available on the CMPA’s redesigned Physician wellness web page, our physician advisors and CMPA-appointed legal counsel describe how they help CMPA members with the emotional challenges arising from medical-legal difficulties.

“Whether or not you have used the CMPA’s services before, you can sleep better at night knowing that an experienced physician colleague who understands the current challenges of front-line practice is just a phone call or email away,” says Dr. Paul Farnan, CMPA Council member and occupational and addiction medicine consultant in Vancouver. Dr. Farnan is a past Chair of the Canadian Physician Health Network and remains an advocate for physician health in Canada.

No question is too small

“Members sometimes don’t know whether a particular issue that has arisen is something they should worry about, and when they should reach out to the CMPA. We say no question or concern is too small. The physician advisor’s role is to first listen and then help the member work through the steps toward a resolution. Having a frank discussion and being able to open up about feelings of anxiety and uncertainty is an important part of the resolution process,” says Dr. Farnan.

The CMPA’s physician-to-physician approach ensures no member feels alone in dealing with the angst of an unexpected turn in their professional practice. Most physicians can expect a medical-legal difficulty at some point in their career, and our physician advisors understand the many challenges of practising medicine in today’s healthcare system. The CMPA’s aim is to help resolve medical-legal matters fairly and expeditiously, and provide members with the assistance and strategies they need to provide safe and effective care.

Caring and empathetic support

Dr. Susan Chafe
Edmonton, Alberta

Some issues may also require the expertise of legal counsel. CMPA-appointed lawyers in each province and territory support members through the legal or regulatory process. “Just like with our physician advisors, members can expect caring and empathetic support from CMPA-appointed lawyers,” says Dr. Susan Chafe, CMPA Council member and radiation oncologist in Edmonton. “It’s important for our members to know they are not alone. Both our physician advisors and appointed lawyers are trained to recognize the signs of emotional distress, and they have access to a wide network of professionals who can help members take the steps needed to improve wellness,” adds Dr. Chafe.

Watch the videos for a revealing glimpse into the CMPA and how we help restore physicians’ confidence and well-being during medical-legal difficulties. Contacting us as soon as possible after an unexpected event allows us to serve you better; our physician advisors are ready to help.