Massachusetts Medical Society: Episode 11: Peer Support

Episode 11: Peer Support

Peer Support

Course Overview

Following up on her conversation with Marie on conflict management, a second conversation with Dr. Jo Shapiro focuses on her hospital’s model peer-support program. There, clinicians facing emotionally stressful situations such as safety events, trauma and traumatic losses, malpractice suits, and medical board complaints are offered the opportunity to meet with trained peers, who help them to express and normalize the complex feelings that arise in these situations. Jo demonstrated the Brigham’s peer support paradigm by asking Marie to talk about an adverse outcome that continues to weigh on her. Marie, Dr. Schwab and Dr. Shapiro proceed to have a moving conversation about the so-called “ghosts” who from time-to-time haunt the memories of many, if not most, practicing physicians.  The discussion clarifies the essential differences between informal and formal peer support, and between peer support and psychotherapy. As Marie talks freely about one of her “ghosts,” the relief she experiences in doing so is palpable. Dr. Shapiro asserts that peer support can actually make a physician more resilient after a stressful event, diminishing the psychological wear and tear that may lead to burnout and depression. She shares her conviction that the medical profession should universalize programs of this sort to meet the human needs of dedicated professionals who frequently face significant occupational stresses.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the differences between informal peer support, formal peer support, and psychotherapy.
  • Delineate the ways in which peer support increases physician resiliency and describe how this may diminish burnout and depression in physicians. 


Jo Shapiro, MD 
I’m the director of the Center for Professionalism and Peer Support at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston and an associate professor of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School. I launched our Center in 2008. Since that time, we have become a model for institutions that are seeking methods to enhance teamwork and respect and are looking to help mitigate the epidemic of burnout that is plaguing the medical profession. I work with health care institutions nationally and internationally to offer leadership and guidance in building professionalism and peer support programs. I previously led the Division of Otolaryngology at BWH and maintain a surgical practice specializing in oropharyngeal swallowing disorders. I have served as president of the Society of University Otolaryngologists, where I chaired the Faculty Development Committee. I am an appointed member of the American Board of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery Education Council, and in 2012 I was elected as a senior examiner for the American Board of Otolaryngology. I am a core faculty member of the Managing Workplace Conflict: Improving Leadership and Personal Effectiveness course of Physician Health Services, Inc.

Course Fees

Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) Member: Free       
Non-MMS Member: Free       
Allied Health Professionals: Free



CME Credit

1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™

Accreditation Statement

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the Massachusetts Medical Society and Physician Health Services, Inc. The Massachusetts Medical Society is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. 

AMA Credit Designation Statement

The Massachusetts Medical Society designates this enduring material for a maximum of 1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

This activity meets the criteria for the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine for risk management study.

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
Physician Assistants may claim a maximum of 1.00 Category 1 credit for completing this activity. NCCPA accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by ACCME or a recognized state medical society.

Exam/Assessment: Please respond to the reflective statement at the end of the course to receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credits.

 MOC Approval Statement
Through the American Board of Medical Specialties ("ABMS") ongoing commitment to increase access to practice relevant Maintenance of Certification ("MOC") Activities through the ABMS Continuing Certification Directory, this activity has met the requirements as an MOC Part II CME Activity (apply toward general CME requirement) for the following ABMS Member Boards:

Allergy and Immunology
Family Medicine
Medical Genetics and Genomics
Nuclear Medicine
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Plastic Surgery
Preventive Medicine
Psychiatry & Neurology
Thoracic Surgery

Activity Term

Original Release Date: January 24, 2019        
Review Date: January 24, 2021           
Termination Date: January 24, 2022

System Requirements

Windows 10        
Mac OSX 10.6 higher

Most modern browsers including:   
IE 11+        
Firefox 18.0+  
Chrome latest version       
Safari 12+  

iOS devices beginning with OS version 5 or higher (includes, iPhone, iPad and iTouch devices)    

Flash player is required for some Online CME courses.  

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