Many physicians will experience an adverse event during their careers, and as a result, stress and burnout can affect personal and professional relationships and patient care. To help physicians cope with the aftermath of these events, the Northwestern Medicine P2P Network was developed.
The P2P Network launched in the Central Region in March 2020. This voluntary service is available to all employed and private physicians. Over the past year, more than 100 physicians have been referred to the P2P Network to find support. Beginning in fiscal year 2022, the P2P Network is available in the North and West Regions, and plans include expanding further throughout the next fiscal year.
“At some point in their career, all physicians are exposed to adverse events, medical issues and surgical complications that may contribute to emotional exhaustion, depression or feelings of isolation,” says Angela Chaudhari, MD, director of the P2P Network and chief of Gynecology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The program’s services are provided by volunteer physicians trained in psychological first aid. Each volunteer is paired one-on-one with a physician who has experienced an adverse event, to offer emotional first aid. Their conversations are confidential and privileged under the Illinois Medical Studies Act, and using the service is entirely voluntary.
“The goal of the P2P Network is to create a community of support after adverse events for our physicians. So many physicians are experiencing burnout, compassion fatigue and moral injury with current events, and our goal is to ensure they have the support they need to cope and thrive in the workplace,” says Dr. Chaudhari. “Our experience has shown that when they know someone has noticed a difficult situation, physicians feel connection with their colleagues and workplace. By creating more and more connection, a culture of well-being is established.” To hear more about the importance of physician peer support and how the program has pivoted to support physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic, listen to Dr. Chaudhari on the NM Better Edge podcast.
How to refer a physician There are three ways a physician is referred to the P2P Network: by self-referral, through peer referral or via Risk Management. Peer support can be requested on your own behalf or on behalf of someone you know who has experienced a distressing adverse event. You can activate the P2P Network by emailing email@example.com or by visiting the P2P Network page on NM Interactive (login required). Once a referral is submitted, a local P2P director assigns a peer supporter who will reach out to the physician within 48 to 72 hours to connect over the phone or in person.
The P2P Network is designed to provide peer-to-peer support with one or two conversations while also connecting physicians with additional resources like the Employee Assistance Program (available to employed physicians only) or mental health services. Session length may vary based on individual needs.
About P2P peer supporters P2P peer supporters must be able to do the following:
Complete a two-hour training
Commit to a one-year term
Maintain availability throughout the year to provide support services to fellow physicians by phone or in person when contacted by P2P administration
Anticipate supporting between five and seven physicians per year
Attend quarterly meetings in person or by phone
If you are interested in serving as a P2P peer supporter, or you would like to nominate a compassionate colleague to serve as a P2P peer supporter, email firstname.lastname@example.org.