Peer Support Program
If you or a colleague are experiencing the second victim effect, peer supporters are here for you.

The Peer Support Program was developed to ensure that providers and staff are emotionally supported through the experience of patient care. Approximately 50% of clinicians are involved in an adverse event each year, which leads to decreased morale and lack of productivity - the "second victim" phenomenon.

Our goal is to help care team members understand what normal reactions to stressful events look and feel like, and the resources available to them. The program is available to all health care team members at UCSF Health hospitals and clinic sites.

Volunteer trained care team members, from a variety of departments, clinical areas, experience, etc. are available to lend a friendly ear and provide support during difficult times. Our peer supporters represent nursing, pharmacy, trainees, physicians, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, spiritual care, social work, hospital supervisors, AHPs, and others. Conversations are legally protected and completely confidential, unless there is an issue of personal safety.  Usually these conversations occur over the phone or in person.

We are here for you!

How is a peer supporter identified?

After a known difficult clinical event, as a matter of routine, all involved care team members will be contacted.  In addition, concerned colleagues or supervisors can ask that a care team member be contacted, and care team members can refer themselves. 

How is the care team member contacted?

Care team members and peer supporters are matched by the Program Managers based on campus, area of practice, clinical background, and availability. 

A designated peer supporter, who will only be given contact information and no clinical details, will contact the person either by email or in person.

What happens next?

The care team member and peer supporter can make arrangements to speak on the phone or meet in person.  This is usually a one time event or with an occasional follow-up.  All contacted care team members are offered a basic information and resource brochure. The member contacted can decide to participate or not - it is not a requirement and completely up to them.    

Is this truly confidential?

Because this program is part of the proceedings of the medical staff of the hospital, responsible for the evaluation and improvement of the quality of care rendered in the hospital, it is legally protected from discovery.  No details about the event are provided to the supporter, and no notes are kept.  The involved care team member can decide to discuss aspects of the event, or not.

The peer supporters also maintain strict confidentiality (unless there are safety concerns about the physician).  The only people who will know that a conversation took place are the involved individual, the peer supporter and the program managers, who only reports out cumulative statistical data re: number of encounters, etc.

What is the role of the peer supporter?

The role of the supporter is to help a clinician cope by listening, offering perspective, emphasizing self-care and providing resources and referrals to other support organizations at UCSF. 

Peer supporters are unpaid volunteers who believe that our faculty, staff, and trainees deserve to be encouraged during the difficult clinical experiences all physicians face at times in their medical careers.


A desire for a formal peer support program were reinforced in August of 2016 when an interdisciplinary group convened to discuss support resources at UCSF. Dr. Adrienne Green and a team from Patient Safety and Regulatory Affairs, Risk Management, and Medical Center Administration strategized about the development of a peer support program throughout FY17. Susan Scott from the University of Missouri forYOU program came to UCSF in April 2017 to train the first cohort of peer supporters at UCSF. Currently, the program is managed by Dr. Kiran Gupta, Medical Director of Patient Safety and Olivia Hodgkiss, Administrative Fellow.