December 22, 2015

The fourth Canadian Conference on Physician Health was held in Winnipeg on October 16-17, 2015; this conference is held in Canada every two years and alternates with the International Conference on Physician Health (held in London, UK in 2014). This year’s conference was co-hosted by Doctors Manitoba and the Canadian Medical Association and attracted 155 participants from Canada and the USA.

The conference highlights included three plenary sessions:

  • Opening plenary – “Using high performance psychology to improve physician health” (Jennifer Botterill, three time Olympic gold medalist)
    • Jennifer shared lessons of sustainable high performance that have been part of her life and her career in elite sport. She also discussed how sport psychology has become performance psychology and offers many practical strategies to all people in the medical field. These approaches have the potential to physicians perform better, adapt to change and live with new standards for health and sustainability.


  • Debate Session –This year’s topic: “Are physicians eroding their personal and professional identities by declaring an illness?”
    • The debate session was a spirited forum featuring Doctors Manitoba Board member, Dr. L. Fourie Smith, and Doctors Manitoba member, Dr. Samantha Kelleher. Moderated by Andre Picard, health reporter and columnist from The Globe and Mail, the panelists debated the resolution: “Be it resolved that declaring an illness erodes a physician’s personal and professional identity”. After a lively and engaging discussion amongst the panellists and the audience, the final vote was against the resolution.
From left to right: Mr. Andre Picard (moderator), Dr. Samantha Kelleher, Ms. Marie-Pier Bastrash, Dr. Brian Westerberg, Dr. L. Fourie Smith


  • Closing plenary – A session to define the concept of physician health (Dr. Cindy Forbes, CMA President)
    • The session included discussion of why physician health and well-being should be foremost in the minds of physicians and what physicians can do to improve their quality of life and health in later years.

Some of the program highlights included:

  • pre-conference workshop PMI Self-awareness by Monica Olsen, MHRD
  • two full days of interactive sessions, group discussions, skills development
  • health sessions including mindfulness meditation, mutual help meetings and Walk the Doc

The conference also included a well-attended social event at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (Friday, Oct. 16th).  Attendees had a chance to examine a few of the exhibits in the recently opened museum – the only one in the world devoted to the concept of human rights.