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The Role of the CMA in Physician Health and Wellness

The CMA strategy is to champion physician health and wellness across the physician lifecycle through leadership and advocacy; and through a lens of shared responsibility — from 'individual' to 'system' — with particular emphasis on system-level initiatives. Although focusing on what physicians can do as individuals has been a major focus within the community to date, strengthening the health and wellness of the physician workforce is a shared responsibility. This emerging frontier involves a collaborative approach, from the top-down, at the system level (e.g., institutions, organizations, community), as well as the bottom-up, individual level (e.g., taking action to maintain personal health and wellness).

Activities and Initiatives


International Conference on Physician Health® 2018 (ICPH)
TORONTO, October 11-13, 2018
Call for abstracts is now closed. Thank you for your submissions.

Major initiatives currently underway:

  • Revised CMA Policy on Physician Health
  • 2017 National Physician Health Survey
  • Collaboration and engagement with national, provincial, and local stakeholders
  • Supporting and working with Provincial Physician Health Programs via the Forum of Canadian Physician Health Programs (FCPHP)
  • Advancing CMA Medical Professionalism Strategic Initiative

Inspiring Happy and Healthy Physicians across the Career Lifecycle

Some of these videos are in French only.

Physician Health and Wellness

Physician health and wellness is an issue that resonates with CMA members across the continuum of their career, from medical training, through practice. Despite its rewards, medicine can be a demanding profession with tremendous responsibility. Although important strides have been made to enhance the health and wellness of the physician workforce, barriers remain. Evidence has repeatedly demonstrated that many physicians face a growing list of adverse outcomes, including troubling rates of burnout, depression, substance abuse, suicide and suicidal ideation. These are linked to a myriad of contributing factors, including:

  • disruptive work environments,
  • restricted autonomy,
  • heavy workloads,
  • long hours and fatigue,
  • reduced work-life balance,
  • financial strain,
  • high expectations,
  • stigma,
  • influences within medical culture

Compounding such outcomes for the individual physician, evidence links physician health and wellness to quality of care and patient safety. It is not surprising that the health of Canada’s physician workforce has become an area of public concern.

What Makes a Physician ‘Well’?

It is important to envision health and wellness beyond the presence or absence of disease or infirmity. Maintaining a sense of wellness involves attuning to a multitude of interconnected factors including physical, mental (psychological/emotional), and social. Others may involve environmental, occupational, and intellectual.

Leading from the WHO’s Position Statement on Physician Health, physican health and wellness can be conceptualized as the:

  • Prevention and treatment of acute or chronic issues experienced by physicians, resulting from occupational stressors and hazards
  • Optimization of multiple factors affecting health and wellness

Physical Health:

Being physically active and eating a healthy diet can boost energy, reduce fatigue and help you maintain stamina throughout your daily schedule.

Mental Health:

Physicians in good psychological health report fewer medical errors, fewer patient safety incidents, higher productivity and more sustainable practice.

Social Health:

Maintaining personal and professional relationships can promote positive health and wellness outcomes, and concepts such as mentorship and peer-support are linked to career development and job satisfaction.