Trained peers listen and support when times are tough

VPSN logo web

In a new video about the importance of peer support for health care workers, Steven Defossez, M.D., Vice President of Clinical Integration at the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, talks about why he became a volunteer for the Betsy Lehman Center’s new statewide Virtual Peer Support Network.

“Burnout and stress and suffering because of an adverse outcome, whether it's work related or personally related, these are not weaknesses. These are normal parts of being a human being and speaking with someone else about it can actually help,” he said. “That's what the Betsy Lehman Center program is all about and why I'm part of it.”

The Virtual Peer Support Network is a free service that connects colleagues in the Massachusetts medical community with peers who are trained to help with the difficult feelings that can accompany working on the front lines of health care. Peer supporters are volunteers who provide encouragement, support and resources to colleagues. All conversations are confidential.

Defossez, who also serves as co-chair of a task force on physician burnout led by MHA and the Massachusetts Medical Society, says conversations with colleagues have helped him through some of the toughest times during his career as a radiologist. With the Virtual Peer Support Network, which is for clinicians and staff in all roles at the front lines of health care, the state is making it possible for people to seek help when they need it and talk to someone who just “gets it.”

“The unwritten curriculum when I was going though medical school was don’t admit weakness, don't ask for help ... keep everything to yourself” said Defossez. “And it's really the wrong way for people to become compassionate health care providers.”

Individuals who want to talk to a peer supporter can complete this request form or call 617-701-8101 to reach someone at the Betsy Lehman Center. Learn more about the Virtual Peer Support Network and how you can partner with the Center to promote this service to your employees at


We want to hear from you!

Email us your feedback and comments: