“Because of the intense frontline work that they do, doctors are an especially vulnerable population when it comes to anxiety and depression”
A new online support network for Canadian doctors has enlisted an Edmonton physician to be one of the first speakers to help get the program up and running.
Dr. Stephanie Smith, an infectious disease specialist and attending physician at the University of Alberta Hospital, is an early contributor to ResilianceRX-By The Rounds. The Rounds is an online network that was launched in 2012 for physicians to check in with one another, creating connections across the country and bouncing ideas and interesting cases off one another.
ResilianceRX is a new initiative by The Rounds that focuses more on physician well-being and mental health, an area of concern that has been highlighted during the ongoing pandemic.
Smith was interviewed early on for ResilianceRx, after it was launched on April 27, discussing how these connections can help physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think that it just gives a bit of a broader voice across the country,” said Smith. “Let’s say that you’re having difficulty with a situation at your own work, then at least you could go outside and see is this something that other people are dealing with and what are the solutions that they’ve come up.”
“There’s been a lot of talk about burnout and health-care workers being burned out and I think that’s true and I think we really do need to look at how can we how can we prevent that, as opposed to just treating it after it happens,” said Smith.
A 2018 survey of doctors conducted by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) found 26 per cent of physician respondents reported a feeling of burnout, while 19 per cent had suicidal ideations at least once in their lifetime. Since the pandemic began, many physician advocacy groups have voiced their concern of burnout increasing within the medical profession.
Tim Rice, president and CEO of The Rounds, said in a news release the pandemic has shown just how important it is for doctors to support one another.
“Because of the intense frontline work that they do, doctors are an especially vulnerable population when it comes to anxiety and depression,” said Rice. “ResilienceRx provides a dedicated space for physicians to connect and share stories amongst their peers, without the pressure or apprehension that they will be judged.”
Smith said the need for physicians to have a support network will help continue beyond the current pandemic. She said ResilianceRX can’t solve the entire problem on its own, but it is a good tool that will help.
“We certainly do deal with difficult situations and I think that having that support in the health care facility and beyond is so important.”