Featuring: Dr. P. Andrea Lum, Vice Dean Faculty Affairs, Schulich Medicine and Dentistry, Western University
Dr. Lum showcases new program to promote wellness and offer collegial support during COVID-19 and beyond. CAR staff had an opportunity to interview Dr. Lum to gain insight into Peers for Peers.
How are you involved in your new role?
I was appointed Vice Dean Faculty Affairs, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry January 1, 2020 with a portfolio encompassing Faculty Wellbeing, Equity and Professional Affairs. By mid March, I developed and led our Schulich Wellbeing Committee to launch our Pandemic Wellbeing Program Peers for Peers.
What do you believe program success looks like?
A January 2020 hospital pre-COVID survey (response of 24%) showed that 50% physicians said, “I feel burnt out from my work” and 30% said “I feel anxious at work”. An April survey during COVID-19 showed 75% of staff and physicians said “Talking with colleagues” as a strategy to enhance resilience at work.
Our Peers for Peers is based upon Empathetic Listening. Listen-Support-Refer with outreach that is confidential and invitational. We have a confidential survey tool that allows us to monitor the program and provide regular “Check Ups” as part of every faculty’s annual career development.
What was the pressure that resulted in the creation of the program?
It became very apparent with the COVID19 pandemic (mid March 2020) that one assistant dean faculty could not provide wellbeing support for approximately 2,400 full and part time clinical faculty members at Schulich as our school spans across South Western Ontario.
- Vision: Faculty lives matter, caring for ourselves by building a program;
- Incentive: Health and wellbeing are linked to quality and safe patient care
Can you point to a similar program that has been successful?
Peer support programs are promoted by Canadian Patient Safety Institute where providers wellbeing reflects on quality and safety of patient care. The recent CAR Resumption of Radiology Clinical Services document refers to a JAMA publication, Understanding & Addressing Sources of Anxiety During COVID, which highlights requests from healthcare professionals “Support me…supporting each other, and support for moral distress”. Other experience include Dr. Jo Shapiro from “Peer Support for Clinicians: A Programmatic Approach” Academic Med.2016;91:00-00; Dr. Mamta Gautam, Ottawa Psychiatrist has done a lot of work with physician burnout and providing group support, reference CSPL Journal. Air Canada Pilots have a longstanding “Pilots Assistance Program” which is run by pilots for their peers; this type of program was recommended by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Task Force after the tragic Germanwings accident in March 2015.
Do you believe that the program is relevant now more than at other times?
Our program is needed now much more than ever for physician wellbeing during the pandemic and the future to flatten the predicted fourth curve peak PTSD. Our program launched in only three weeks with an amazing core of wellbeing Leads (10/20/70 Pedagogy training) to enable support for our faculty. We started with one assistant dean and expanded to a team of 30+ wellbeing leads!!
“Peers for Peers, we can do this together as we cannot do this alone!”
To learn more about Peers for Peers click here.
Andrea Lum is a long time CAR member and serves on the Canadian Radiology Foundation Board.