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Well that was humbling!

August 19, 2013

a view up from the forrest floor in the Beaver Lodge Lands in Campbell River, BC.

Partly as an extension of my work with the Canadian Medical Association’s Healthcare Transformation Working Group, I was invited to give a brief presentation on The Unique Value Proposition of Physicians at an eduction session that was part of the CMA’s General Council.

It’s probably shameful to admit it, but I need to say it: I am still a relative new-comer to the world of medical leadership and policy, so it was a complete honor that I was invited to speak, if briefly, about a controversial topic in front of a room full of very engaged physicians, healthcare advocates, and policy makers.

To have my input valued to the point where a room full of brilliant people sat and listened to me, it’s a dream. It felt incredible as I looked out and saw people in the crowd nodding their heads in agreement, or when they came up to me afterwards or the next day and passionately agreed or disagreed or were bursting with their own perspective. In hallways and elevators, with wine or coffee in hand, everything from “that was fantastic, yes, patient care comes first” to “you young people, you’re what’s ruining our profession and making doctors inaccessible to patients with your work-hour restrictions and ‘work life balance’ ” was passed by my ears. I certainly didn’t have a snappy response for everything – the unique role and value of a physician can be quite nebulous – but we all agreed that we, as a group, need to work better at defining what we do now and what we want to do in future.

Being around smart people who really care about the future of medicine is such a reassuring thing. There are many people in our daily lives who are dispassionate. Who don’t seem interested in what’s happening around them or in affecting change. But at this event, there are hundreds of physicians (and some affiliates) who are – for lack of better description – “fired up.”

There were some extremely controversial subjects up for discussion including end-of-life care, scope of practice, physician wellness, and so on. I’m quite sad to be missing the Appropriateness and Accountability session as it has been emerging for the last few years as a real area of interest for me, however, I will be able to watch it online. I think I’ll be waving my arms at the screen and saying “yes! exactly! I know!” a lot.

One huge bonus of the GC was meeting and reuniting with some pretty interesting people, some of whom certainly had a hand in where I am today. One of my first PBL tutours, a leadership guru with an incredible memory, a blogger that I’ve followed off-and-on for years, some fellow young docs who are leading their peers in tricky times, an intensivist who tells it like it is, a rural doc who has all the characteristics that an awesome rural doc should, a big city innovator with rural roots, and the list goes on!

I hope that other early-career physicians like me will find that the CMA does have a lot to offer. Even if you don’t agree with what the CMA is doing on an issue, you should still get involved. In fact, that’s a great reason to join the CMA. We have the privilege of being a self-regulating profession and every view point needs to be included in that. It still floors me to think that the future of healthcare in Canada can really be shaped by physician voices, including mine.

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