Physician Health Program

The SMA's Physician Health Program assists physicians struggling with physical, mental, personal or financial stress.

Physician Health Program committee members provide assistance to colleagues, physicians in training and their families who may be struggling with a variety of issues, including mental health, substance abuse/addiction, physical health, marital and family concerns. Support is available to physicians throughout the spectrum of their careers: from medical school and residency, through active practice and into retirement.

Committee members are from a variety of backgrounds and expertise, the common denominator being a dedication to the provision of non-judgmental and confidential assistance and support. Compassionate and knowledgeable in the field of physician health and well being, they assist struggling physicians and their families in whatever way necessary to access the necessary education, rehabilitation, support, and maximize the potential for physicians to continue in effective medical practice. 

Referral sources and those accessing service can be reassured that all information remains strictly confidential.

If you are in need of assistance or are aware of a struggling colleague, please contact Brenda Senger, Director of Physician Support Programs at (306) 244-2196 or 1-800-667-3781.

Self-reflection tools (available to SMA members only) - The world's first comprehensive, online physician health and wellness resource.

Committee member contact information (available to SMA members only)

Committee Terms of Reference

Did You Know?
The most common personal difficulties for physicians and their families arise from substance abuse/addiction, mental health issues (depression, stress, etc.) and work/family imbalance. One out of every 10 physicians will become dependent on psychoactive drugs or alcohol sufficient to impair the practice of medicine at some time during their careers.

One out of every 100 physicians will become a narcotics addict at some time during their career. Compared to controls, medical residents are 5.5 times more likely to use sleeping pills, stimulants and other drugs. Approximately 40 per cent of female and 27 per cent of male medical students and residents experience pronounced symptoms of anxiety or depression. Between 30 and 50 per cent of physicians report anxiety, sleeplessness or depression in reaction to personal problems (significantly higher than in other professions).

The suicide rate for physicians is twice that of the general population. The suicide rate of physician's wives is higher than the rate for wives of any other professional group.

On average, male physicians work between 68 and 80 hours per week. Married female physicians, in addition to taking major responsibility for home and family, work 90 per cent as much as their male colleagues.

Approximately 50 per cent of first time marriages for those under the age of 35 end in divorce. Physicians under the age of 45 consistently indicate that their most toxic stressor is the struggle with work/family imbalance and its effect on home life.

The practice of medicine is often the last area to be affected for a physician in difficulty. Stress is inevitable. Struggling is optional.