Canadian Medical Association

The pandemic has taken a toll on the emotional and physical well-being of physicians, medical learners and health care workers across Canada. Many have had to cope with an increase or exacerbation of anxiety, burnout or other health challenges related to increasingly difficult workplace conditions.

This toolkit includes proven wellness services and resources to support you at this stage of the pandemic.

Check your vitals

Being stressed or overwhelmed can make it hard to recognize when we need support. Use this mental health continuum model for physicians to check in with yourself.

HEALTHY

How you're feeling

  • Normal mood fluctuations
  • Calm, takes things in stride
  • Sense of humour
  • Good concentration, performing well
  • Normal sleep patterns
  • Normal eating patterns, stable weight
  • Physically well, active
  • Socially active
  • No or limited alcohol consumption/substance use/addictive behaviours
     

Recommended actions

  • Focus on the task at hand
  • Break problems into manageable tasks
  • Be mindful of how you are feeling; take controlled, deep breaths
  • Nurture your support system; recognize the signs of distress in your colleagues and offer support where possible
  • Understand that is it okay to ask for support
  • Access physician wellness resources to learn more about peer support, organizational wellness, leadership and much more
     

 

REACTING

How you're feeling

  • Nervousness, irritability 
  • Sadness, overwhelmed 
  • Displaced sarcasm 
  • Distracted, loss of focus, intrusive thoughts 
  • Changes in sleep patterns 
  • Changes in eating patterns, some weight gain or loss 
  • Low energy, procrastination
  • Decreased social activity 
  • Some to regular alcohol consumption/substance use/addictive behaviours (controlled) 
     

Recommended actions

  • Recognize limits, take breaks
  • Take care of the basics: get enough rest, water, food, exercise
  • Seek out peer support - check out the Wellness Connection which offers free virtual sessions for physicians and medical learners
  • Identify and resolve problems early - if problems persist, contact the Wellness Support Line and/or your provincial physician health program for support
  • Access physician wellness resources to learn more about self-compassion, resilience, civility and much more

 

INJURED

How you're feeling

  • Anxiety, anger, sadness, hopelessness
  • Negative attitude
  • Recurrent intrusive thoughts/images/nightmares
  • Difficulty concentrating, decreased performance
  • Restless, disturbed sleep, increased fatigue
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Increased aches and pain
  • Avoidance, tardiness
  • Frequent alcohol consumption/substance use/addictive behaviours (hard to control)
     

Recommended actions

  • Recognize your own signs of distress and make self-care a priority
  • Maintain social contact, don’t withdraw – try using the buddy system to stay connected
  • Contact the Wellness Support Line and/or your provincial physician health program for crisis support and everyday wellness issues
  • Access physician wellness resources to learn more about grief, trauma, stress and much more

 

ILL

How you're feeling

  • Excessive anxiety, panic attacks, angry outbursts, aggression
  • Depressed mood and/or suicidal thoughts
  • Noncompliant
  • Cannot concentrate or perform duties
  • Cannot fall asleep/stay asleep, constant fatigue
  • Extreme weight fluctuations
  • Physical illnesses
  • Withdrawal, absenteeism
  • Significant trouble/impact due to alcohol consumption/substance use/addiction
     

Recommended actions

 

This model has been adapted from a model created by the Canadian Armed Forces.

Access support services


image used for Wellness Support Line showing physician leaning over a sink looking tired

Wellness Support Line

The Wellness Support Line offers free, confidential counselling and access to psychologists for urgent crisis support and for everyday wellness issues to physicians, medical learners and their immediate families. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and French. 

Learn more


image used for The Wellness Connection showing woman communicating virtually

Wellness Connection

The Wellness Connection offers free, virtual peer support sessions led by trained facilitators to physicians and medical learners. This platform also delivers featured group sessions on topics such as Psychological First Aid, Compassion Rounds and Mindful Parenting.

Learn more


Connect with peers

virtual meeting showing all participants on a computer screen

You’re not alone. Connect with other physicians to share your experiences and coping strategies.


Support your team

Three physicians talking to each other in a hospital hall way

As a leader, you can support your team and their well-being.


Physician Wellness Hub

image used for the Physician Wellness hub showing a close up face of a doctor

The Physician Wellness Hub provides reliable wellness tools and resources to empower physicians, medical learners, leaders and educators to create change in the culture of medicine.
 

Pandemic wellness topics

Understand some of the challenges physicians face and what can be done to improve them.

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Sound Mind

Sound Mind is a CMA podcast about physician wellness and medical culture, hosted by psychiatrist and wellness expert Dr. Caroline Gérin-Lajoie.

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Credit Eligibility

Completing activities and accessing resources in this toolkit can count towards continuing professional development credits. 

When reporting this activity for CPD credits, please describe it as "CMA Pandemic Wellness Toolkit".

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program

Follow these steps to claim credits under MOC Section 3: Practice Assessment for three credits/hour:  

  1. Complete the Check Your Vitals self-assessment.
  2. Attend one or more one-hour Wellness Connection virtual group support sessions.
  3. Leverage Physician Wellness Hub wellness resources (choose content in line with your wellness goals under Connect with Peers, Support Your Team, Pandemic Wellness Topics, Sound Mind, and other resources).
  4. Repeat steps two and three as needed. 
  5. Check Your Vitals again after your wellness process (steps 2 through 4) feels complete to see how your wellness has changed.   

All Steps must be completed to claim credits. Time spent on steps 1 through 5 can be claimed for three credits/hour. Every wellness improvement cycle (steps 1 through 5) you complete can be claimed for credit.   

If you have questions, please contact the MOC team at 1-800-461-9598 or cpd@royalcollege.ca.

The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) Mainpro+

This activity has not been formally reviewed by the CFPC; however, it is eligible for non-certified credits. The following Mainpro + categories apply when claiming credits for activities:

Notes:  

  • COVID- 19: Learning on the go form: ‘Self-Learning’ activities within this Toolkit are eligible for two certified Mainpro+ credits under the Self-Learning, certified activities. 
  • Mainpro+ participants may also claim five certified credits by completing a Linking Learning exercise. All Linking Learning exercises can be found under the Certified Assessment Menu in Mainpro+.

If you have questions, please contact the Mainpro+ team at 1-800-387-6197 ext. 560 or mainprocredits@cfpc.ca.