P4P Peer Support Program

P4P Peer Support Program for Physicians, Medical Students, APCs, and Pharmacists sharing their concerns with those who truly understand

Colleagues can relate to situations, stressors, and concerns encountered in the workplace by their peers. For this reason, LVHN developed a P4P Peer Support Program. The program assists clinicians who are experiencing stresses, especially those brought on by their professional roles.

Rory Marraccini, MD, Vice Chair of Psychiatry at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), and Carolyn Lamparella, Ed.S, LPC, Program Director of Preferred EAP and a member of the LVHN Wellness Committee, are co-directors of the program. They offer an excellent overview by way of this Q&A.

Why was the P4P Peer Support Program created?

Adverse outcomes, whether anticipated or unanticipated, can be the result of errors or a natural consequence of providing medical care. Clinicians report increased stress, sleep problems and loss of confidence after an adverse event, particularly if it is preventable. The P4P Peer Support Program was developed to help physicians, medical students, pharmacists, and advanced practice clinicians (APCs) cope with the impact of adverse events and work-related stress. The program offers providers the opportunity to have one-on-one confidential conversations with a fellow clinician (P4P Mentor) who understands the demands of the health care profession.

What types of events or issues are typically discussed?

P4P Mentors provide support for any issue causing the provider distress. This might involve the death of a patient, feelings of being overwhelmed at work or at home, and stress related to a current or pending litigation.

What is the goal of the program, and what are the intended outcomes?

The goal of the P4P Peer Support Program is to create a rapid-response infrastructure to help providers after an adverse or stressful event. Its objective is to provide a “safe zone” where they can confidentially discuss the situation to mitigate the impact of the event. Anticipated outcomes include emotional healing, enhanced well-being, and an improved culture of safety.

Who provides the support, and how are they matched with those seeking help?

P4P Mentors are volunteers, either physicians, APCs, or other experienced clinical professionals. All Mentors participate in a four-hour training session to prepare for their role. Once initial training is complete, Mentors will meet quarterly to discuss the effectiveness of the program and improve their support skills. Strict confidentiality for the participants is maintained at all times. A provider seeking support may choose a P4P Mentor on their own from a list of Mentors.

How does the program work? Is there follow-up?

The process begins with a conversation between the provider seeking support and the P4P Mentor. That may be all a provider needs. However, the Mentor will be available for additional conversations if desired. If the provider is experiencing significant ongoing concerns, the Mentor may facilitate a referral to another resource. All Mentors have access to a list of resources both within the health network and the community. Mentors will then follow up with the provider to ensure they receive the help they are seeking.

Are conversations confidential?

Confidentiality is a requirement for any conversation entrusted to a P4P Mentor. Mentors will not discuss conversations with department leadership, human resources, or their peers. Nothing is written down or recorded. Only de-identified information will be discussed during quarterly P4P meetings for the purpose of program improvement and Mentors’ skill development.

What is the process when a legal issue is involved?

Because certain incidents are best handled with legal resources in addition to a P4P Mentor (i.e., when situations involving litigation are anticipated or known), the Mentor will advise that the provider contact legal services for assistance in addition to any other support. Under certain special circumstances, the Mentor may have a regulatory obligation to report what is shared with law enforcement or other governmental agency (in cases where the clinician is at risk for harming himself/herself or others, child abuse, sexual harassment, or a need to comply with state/federal requirements). LVHN risk management and legal counsel are supportive of the P4P Peer Support Program. Questions about confidentiality should be discussed with the P4P Mentor.

How does a provider take part in the program?

Providers can reach out to a P4P Peer Support Mentor on their own or initiate a conversation by calling Preferred EAP at 610-433-8550, or use the form available here: preferredeap.org/contact-us. A P4P Peer Support Mentor may also reach out after an adverse event has occurred.

For information, contact: