The physician counsellors include Drs. John Chiasson (Antigonish); Michelle Dow (Meteghan Centre), David Saunders (Dartmouth/New Minas), David Martel (Central and Western zones) and Muna Chowdhury (Halifax). Team members are linked with treatment providers throughout the province.
Team member profiles:
Dr. John Chiasson, PSP Director (Eastern Zone, Antigonish)
A family physician for more than 40 years, Dr. Chiasson is passionate about physical activity, lifelong learning, and balancing work and play. The well-being of his colleagues has been a focus for the last 10 years and he advocates for system change that will effect that outcome. His joy comes from family, friends and leading change that improves the lives of others.
Dr. Michelle Dow, physician counsellor (Western Zone, Meteghan Centre)
Dr. Dow has been practising comprehensive family medicine for 35 years in rural Nova Scotia. She works in a rural collaborative care practice in Meteghan Centre, along with eight physicians and a family practice nurse. She is also a preceptor in the longitudinal family medicine residency program and is a Past-President of DNS (2016–17). “Mental health issues in our profession cannot be ignored, but often doctors and their families are reluctant to reach out for advice or help,” she said. “I can help guide my colleagues and their families in times of crisis or illness.”
Dr. David Saunders, physician counsellor (Central Zone, Dartmouth/New Minas)
With his practice focusing on addiction medicine, Dr. Saunders specializes in opioid assisted treatment, general addiction consultation, and inpatient consultation at the IWK (pre-and antenatal). He is also an abstinence-based rehabilitation medical consultant at Crosbie House in New Minas. “I became interested in physician health when I transitioned from family medicine to addiction medicine. My focus is on addiction, career fatigue and burnout.”
Dr. David Martell, physician counsellor (Central and Western zones)
Dr. Martell has lived and worked in Lunenburg since 2004. For the first 20 years of his career, Dr. Martell practised full-scope family medicine and now is in addiction medicine focused practice. His Achilles heel is his predilection for preferentially seeking out some of the more challenging corners of medicine. “Having worked in every variety of front-line medical practice I could possibly find, I can relate to what most front-line providers face in their daily grind. Having dealt with some of the emotional challenges and events that come with the work of being a caring provider while maintaining a private life, I can connect with my colleagues who have to deal with these same issues.”
Dr. Muna Chowdhury, physician counsellor (Central Zone)
Dr. Chowdhury is a GP psychotherapist with extensive experience in the areas of mental health and substance use. She is very familiar with CBT and mindfulness-based therapies. She also has experience with solution focused therapy as well interpersonal therapies. Her career has focused on working with marginalized groups of people, including those struggling with mental illness, substance use disorders, gender dysphoria, refugees, and underhoused/homeless people, particularly youth.