Chair's Message – Maintaining Wellness

Here we are in September, the end of the summer season, and the usual ramp up of academic and other activities on top of the usual heavy clinical load that most family physicians are facing. I do hope that each of you had some opportunity for a break to relax and recharge over the summer. This may be short-lived however given that we are facing a fourth wave of the pandemic due to the highly infectious Delta variant. Is this ever going to end?

The College of Family Physicians of Canada recently released the results of a member survey that indicated a rate of burnout in family physicians that was three times higher than in 2020. This is concerning and may be exacerbated by as well as the many other pressures that family physicians are facing.

  • There are calls for family physicians to increase their face-to-face encounters with patients to keep them out of the emergency rooms.
  • The CPSO reports increasing complaints from patients about access to family physician care.
  • Anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protests that target health care workers are demoralizing.

So, how do family physicians deal with these pressures and maintain wellness in the face of such concerning statistics?

I don’t have all the answers but here are some of my personal suggestions:

  1. You don’t have to face this alone. Most areas will have a physician group or network working together to promote best practices and provide support. Here in London, we have the London Middlesex Primary Care Alliance, and the Department of Family Medicine, actively working to support family physicians with education and information. Regular townhall meetings and rounds keep everyone on the same page.
  2. Connect with colleagues and plan together how best to reach your patients that are difficult to vaccinate, either through structural barriers or socio-economic factors, or misinformation. Working together and increasing vaccination rates is one of the best ways to impact the severity of the fourth wave.
  3. Plan with your staff and physician colleagues how to gradually increase your face-to-face encounters with patients. This is especially important to catch up on preventive health measures and deal with mental health concerns. Dr. Tara Kiran, in Toronto, advocates a strategy of letting the patients choose which type of encounter they would prefer for doctor’s visits. It wouldn’t hurt to try this.
  4. Be aware of wellness resources in your area. For the Department of Family Medicine, you can contact Susan McNair at or the Schulich Wellness Program


As always, I welcome your comments and feedback at or @DOCSJW on Twitter