Peer Support Program
Peer support is an accessible and powerful intervention that can reduce distress and promote wellness among healthcare providers, particularly after an adverse event. The Resident and Faculty Wellness Program (RFWP) developed a peer support program to provide trained clinical faculty peer supporters who are available to OHSU School of Medicine faculty, fellows, and residents.
If you have been exposed to an adverse event, a peer supporter may reach out to you to offer peer support. Our goal at the peer support program is to reach out to every School of Medicine faculty, fellow, and resident exposed to a major adverse event. If you would like to inform us of an adverse event and who might have been involved so that we can offer peer support services, please contact us.
The OHSU Peer Support Program aims to prevent and reduce distress and burnout in clinicians. Our program has a particular focus on those clinicians who have experienced an adverse event or other significant professional difficulties, including litigation and board complaints. We provide direct peer support to individual clinicians, outreach and education to the OHSU School of Medicine community, and ongoing program development based on scholarly investigation and evidence based practices.
"All OHSU School of Medicine faculty, residents and fellows are eligible to receive free, confidential peer support."
Access Peer Support for Yourself
If you would like to refer yourself for peer support, you may contact us and we can assign you a peer supporter. Alternatively, you can review our list of trained peer supporters and contact one directly. You may select a peer supporter from any department.
Refer a Colleague for Peer Support
You may refer a colleague who has experienced a stressful event for peer support by contacting us, and we will select a peer supporter to reach out to your colleague. The peer supporter will reach out to the referred individual and offer a peer support meeting.
Peer Support or Individual Counseling?
Peer support is a brief intervention by a colleague that can be of tremendous benefit in dealing with difficult situations. If you are seeking ongoing care from a psychologist or psychiatrist, please contact the Resident and Faculty Wellness Program.
100,000-210,000 patient deaths occur annually in the US due to adverse events and 54% of physicians in the US will experience a serious error in their medical careers (citations below).
Such events can be associated with difficult consequences in the physician including:
- Shock, fear, anger, sadness, guilt
- Decreased concentration, negative thoughts
- Sleep changes, somatic symptoms, exhaustion
- Avoidance, excessive checking/rechecking or 'defensive medicine', leaving medicine
Peer support has many advantages:
- It may be more accessible than professional counseling.
- Peers have the credibility of a shared experience.
- Individualized and 1:1 support may be healthier for some than group debriefing –which can increase PTSD symptoms for some individuals.
- Promotes greater connection and help-seeking—major protective factors against suicide risk.
Peer supporters are faculty clinicians who were nominated by their peers and participated in an intensive training. They are available to provide one-on-one peer support to clinicians after an adverse event, professional or work/life difficulty, or other stressful situation. Peer supporters meet with individuals in a casual setting to discuss the difficulties, offering the empathy and perspective of a peer. Peer support is not therapy, but a means of reflecting and getting support from one's peer.
The peer supporter will not take notes of any kind during the visit, which reduces likelihood of discoverability. Accessing peer support is not reportable on licensing or credentialing applications. Utilization data is kept, without identifying information, to aid in the development of this program.
- Brigham & Women's Hospital Center for Professionalism and Peer Support
- Shapiro, J., Galowitz, P. (2016). Peer Support for Clinicians: A Programmatic Approach. Acad Med
- Bruce, S. M., Conaglen, H. M., &Conaglen, J. V. (2005). Burnout in physicians: A case for peer-support. Intern Med J Internal Medicine Journal, 35(5), 272-278.
- Pfeiffer, P. N., Heisler, M., Piette, J. D., Rogers, M. A., &Valenstein, M. (2011). Efficacy of peer support interventions for depression: A meta-analysis. General Hospital Psychiatry, 33(1), 29-36.
- Plews-Ogan, M., Owens, J. E., &May, N. B. (2013). Wisdom through adversity: Learning and growing in the wake of an error. Patient Education and Counseling, 91(2), 236-242.
- Plews-Ogan, M., May, N., Owens, J., Ardelt, M., Shapiro, J., &Bell, S. K. (2016). Wisdom in Medicine. Academic Medicine, 91(2), 233-241.
- Shapiro, J., MD. (2012). Physicians' Needs in Coping. The Case for Peer Support. Archives of General Surgery, 147(3), 212-217.
- Academic Medicine Podcast