The physician counsellors include Drs. John Chiasson (Antigonish); Michelle Dow (Meteghan Centre), David Saunders (Dartmouth/New Minas), Moira MacLean (Halifax/Dartmouth), Robert Martel (Central and Western zones) and Sundeep Chohan (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 interested in community and leadership initiatives, Dr. Chiasson has been practising medicine for more than 35 years. He is a Past-President of Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) and is past chair of DNS’s Physician Navigator Program. Experiencing stress and fear of failure while in medical school inspired Dr. Chiasson to find balance using time management skills and coping strategies. “I want to encourage my colleagues to experience choice and to take control of their own solutions. Success is more durable when we make decisions that reflect our own beliefs, ethics and skillsets.”
Dr. Michelle Dow, physician counsellor (Western Zone, Meteghan Centre)
Practising family medicine for 30 years in a mix of rural and urban settings, Dr. Dow works in a rural collaborative care practice in Meteghan Centre, along with five other physicians and a nurse practitioner. She is also a preceptor for a resident in a longitudinal family medicine residency program and is a Past-President of DNS. “Mental health issues in our profession cannot be ignored, but often doctors and their families do not know where to go for advice or help. I hope that I can help my colleagues and their families in times of crisis.”
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 Halifax Infirmary and 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. I hope to focus 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 feel I can connect with my colleagues who have to deal with these same issues.”
Dr. Sundeep Chohan, physician counsellor (Central Zone, Halifax)
Dr. Chohan is family physician with a focused practice in veterans and primary care mental health, GP psychotherapy and addiction medicine. A graduate from University College London (U.K.), Dr. Chohan has worked across the world before arriving in Halifax in 2018. “I personally know three physician colleagues who died by suicide. I would like to open the dialogue with physicians, so we acknowledge that we too need to create space to focus on our own well-being. I think the high rates of clinician suicides, burnout, addiction, PTSD and other mental health disorders are indicative of the challenges that we face. I feel that medicine has not yet gone through the cultural paradigm shift that the military went through in acknowledging this in their troops in the past decade. I would like to use my role to change the narrative."