Wellness is not merely the absence of distress, physician wellbeing includes being challenged, thriving, and finding purpose in various aspects of professional life. The Department of Psychiatry recognizes that burnout is a prevalent phenomenon of the medical practice and learning environment, and is committed to a ‘culture of wellbeing’, including the development of infrastructure that support our residents in their pursuit of professional identity development, resilience and the ability to thrive in one’s career. We also encourage residents to find ways to maintain their health and wellbeing. Residency can be a challenging period of ongoing change, steep learning curves, and multiple demands, coupled with a lack of experience of how to manage growing responsibilities. Like all physicians, residents face an increased risk of burnout and mental health issues compared to the general population. Here we have included various resources to support resident wellbeing in Psychiatry:
Office of Learner Affairs
The Office of Learner Affairs is part of the Office of Health Professions Student Affairs (OHPSA) at the University of Toronto. It provides the following services:
1. Short-term counseling and wellness coaching
2. Support during remediation/academic difficulty
3. Educational programming/wellness workshops
4. Approval for accommodations, leaves of absence, including parental leaves
Local Residency Resources
Psychiatry Resident Advisor role
Psychiatry’s Resident Advisor
Contact the Department of Psychiatry’s Resident Advisor for confidential discussion, advice or involvement. The Resident Advisor works at arm’s length from the postgraduate training program. No one in the department will know that you have contacted the Ombudsperson, or what you have disclosed, without your permission. Please visit the Resident Advisor page.
PRPC Subcommitee on Resident Wellbeing
PRPC Subcommittee on Resident Wellbeing
The mandate of this committee is to develop and maintain programs in support of psychiatry resident wellbeing. Recognizing that factors affecting wellbeing in residency training draw from individual, organizational (the residency program, individual hospitals, and the broader medical community) as well as systems factors (provincial health care system), this committee aims to understand how these factors affect our residents perceived wellbeing during training, and will work through the PRPC to develop and support policies, processes, and programs that support residents.
Resident Wellness Interest Group
Since it’s inception in 2016, the Psychiatry Resident’s Association of Toronto (PRAT) Wellness Committee has strived to advocate for and integrate wellness in the Department of Psychiatry. Our vision is threefold: (1) to enhance resident engagement and build a strong community, (2) to advocate for preserving resident resilience, (3) and to build strategic partnerships with other programs. We meet semi-regularly throughout the year, and organize wellness-themed events (yoga, trampoline dodgeball, board games, rock climbing).
All current Psychiatry residents are welcome to join! If you’re interested, please contact your PRAT representative.
Psychiatry Resident Association of Toronto (PRAT)
PRAT offers two retreats each academic year. These retreats are an opportunity to come together as the larger resident (PGY1-5) community, to facilitate connection, fun and an opportunity to learn about important issues affecting physician wellbeing. Guest speakers focus on important topics like tackling stigma against physicians accessing mental health resources, to concepts like ‘financial wellbeing’. The retreat is also aimed at providing residents at each training year an informal avenue to provide feedback regarding their rotation experiences to the incoming year. The retreats are held off-site and without staff presence.
In addition to the retreats, PRAT offers social events for residents all year round. This can range from games night, pub night, to sessions on career planning.
Mentorship is an important part of professional identity development. Residents are encouraged to work with their supervisors, site directors and local physicians-in-chief to find the kind of mentorship they are looking for. If you have questions about finding a mentor, do not hesitate to reach out to the postgraduate leadership team (link to postgrad leadership team website). There are also opportunities for group mentorship through the Upreach Program, which brings residents from PGY1-5 and faculty together informally. Please contact Dr. Phoebe Bao and Dr Nate Charach for more details at UpReachtoronto@gmail.com.
Professional Organization support:
PARO resident wellbeing committee
Visit the PARO website for a variety of professional supports, including details about parental leave and benefits.
PARO Helpline 1-866-HELPDOC (1-866-435-7362)
Ontario Medical Association (OMA)
The OMA offers various Wellness Resources through their website (INCLUDE LINK)
- Professionals Health Program offers range of direct services to physicians and their family members. Call 1-800-851-6606 for direct access
- Podcasts on managing stress, resilience and anxiety
- Mindfulness exercises
Learning Environment Concerns and Reporting
1. For any concerns about learner mistreatment or the learning environment, please contact PGME Learners Experience, trusted faculty and/or the Resident Advisor. pgme.utoronto.ca/current-trainees/while-youre-training/access-wellness-resources/urgent-advice-for-pgme-trainees/personal-health-safety/learner-mistreatment/
2. Professional Association of Residents of Ontario (PARO): The PARO-CAHO contract includes policies that protect residents from Intimidation and Harassment. If a resident feels they are being harassed, they can contact the PARO office for information and advice 1.877.979.1183. Calls will remain confidential and the office will not proceed further until you direct them to do so.
COVID-19 related resources
ECHO Ontario Coping with COVID
The “ECHO Ontario Coping with COVID” group is designed for Residents supporting the current Pandemic to share and learn about ways to build resilience and wellness through didactic lectures and case-based discussions.
PARO website for COVID-19 information
PARO has a website for COVID-19 updates. It is being updated daily with the latest information.
An Ontario resource for supporting healthcare workers. It includes resources focused on healthcare provider (including resident) wellness during or as a result of the pandemic. Residents can access supports directly through this pathway. Learn more about Ontario Health Mental Wellness Supports
For additional COVID-related resident supports at U of T, please see the Postgraduate Wellness Office - Useful Resources and Links during COVID-19.
For information about resources for COVID-19
Commonly Asked Questions
1. What is the process for accommodations, a leave of absence or modification of training based on a medical/personal concern?
All accommodations/ LOA should be pursued through the Postgraduate Wellness Office (PWO) (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please review the Accommodations policy for additional details. The Program Director can provide interim accommodations to residents who require them, to allow for the PWO to review.
2. How do I access psychotherapy?
Residents who are interested in counselling or psychotherapy can contact the Postgraduate Wellness Office to learn about available resources.
3. Who should I ask about time away from rotations to attend doctor appointments?
The residency program recognizes that residents will on occasion require time away from rotations to attend health care appointments. Residents should speak to their primary supervisor about expected time away for appointments. If a recurring, regular appointment is anticipated requiring time away from a rotation, residents can contact the PWO about accommodation.
4. How do I arrange a parental leave?
Residents who plan to take a parental leave should contact the Program Officer, at least 4 weeks prior. The Program Officer will submit the necessary paperwork to PGME and help the resident plan their return to work date. For additional details, please see the PARO website, which includes other helpful resources regarding parental leave.
5. If I have another wellness question, but I am not sure who to ask, what should I do?
The Psychiatry Residency Program is committed to resident wellness. You can always reach out to the Program Director or Associate Program Director with any questions about wellness resources. If you prefer, the Resident Advisor is a confidential resource to residents, and deliberately at arm's length from the residency program. More information about the Resident Advisor can be found here.