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Background: Physicians experience higher rates of burnout relative to the general population. Concerns of confidentiality, stigma, and professional identities as health care providers act as barriers to seeking and receiving appropriate support. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, factors that contribute to burnout and barriers to seeking support have been amplified, elevating the overall risks of mental distress and burnout for physicians. Objective: This paper aimed to describe the rapid development and implementation of a peer support program within a health care organization located in London, Ontario, Canada. Methods: A peer support program leveraging existing infrastructures within the health care organization was developed and launched in April 2020. The “Peers for Peers” program drew from the work of Shapiro and Galowitz in identifying key components within hospital settings that contributed to burnout. The program design was derived from a combination of the peer support frameworks from the Airline Pilot Assistance Program and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. Results: Data gathered over 2 waves of peer leadership training and program evaluations highlighted a diversity of topics covered through the peer support program. Further, enrollment continued to increase in size and scope over the 2 waves of program deployments into 2023. Conclusions: Findings suggest that the peer support program is acceptable to physicians and can be easily and feasibly implemented within a health care organization. The structured program development and implementation can be adopted by other organizations in support of emerging needs and challenges

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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