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UW Medicine is excited to launch a new Peer to Peer program to help formalize access to trained peer supporters. This program represents an important step toward developing the culture of well-being for everyone at UW Medicine.

The burnout problem

Across the country there are growing reports of burnout and emotional fatigue among healthcare workers. Common reactions and psychological symptoms associated with stressful events and emotional distress include sleep disturbance, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, isolation, frustration and self-doubt.

Emotional fatigue can be a result of many different aspects of clinical care. Sometimes these feelings are due to a specific event, such as the death of a patient. At other times, it is due to cumulative stress.

Burnout has been associated with increased medical errors and decreased patient safety as well as increased turnover of staff. These issues are a reality at any healthcare organization, including UW Medicine.

A culture of care

Starting on January 13, 2020, care team members can request support for themselves or a colleague at any time. This can be done through an online portal or by reaching out to any of the clinical Peer to Peer leaders.

These leaders will also extend offers of peer support to clinicians after particularly challenging cases or adverse events. The hope is that the culture of UW Medicine will become one where colleagues offer continuous support to one another.

Peer support training

Peer supporters are healthcare team members trained to be supportive, non-judgmental and confidential listeners. They have “been there” and have experienced similar work and life challenges.

Every Peer to Peer team member is trained on tools and strategies they can use to provide support to their colleagues experiencing similar stress. The trainings were led by national experts in peer support: Sue Scott RN, PhD, University of Missouri and Kiran Gupta, MD, University of California San Francisco.

The first phase of the Peer to Peer rollout will launch at Harborview Medical Center and UW Medical Center campuses as well as to faculty at all clinical sites. After evaluation of the first phase, the Peer to Peer program hopes to reach all UW Medicine sites.

How to get support

For staff and faculty who are looking for more information about the Peer to Peer program or to request support for themselves or a colleague, please email or visit the Peer to Peer website.


Guest Writers: Anne Browning, PhD, and Trish Kritek, MD, EdM

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