If Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti hoped to get physicians' attention with his inaugural speech as CMA president, there's little doubt that he succeeded.
"It was a unique presentation," said Dr. John O'Brien-Bell, who held the CMA presidency in 1988-89. "He is proposing something unique, and it should [prove] successful."
What Francescutti proposed was unique indeed. Instead of having just one CMA president, he suggested, the CMA should employ its 80,000 members as "ambassadors" who will advocate on behalf of their profession and the health care system.
In his multimedia presentation, which had been "test-driven" and refined at three previous meetings of provincial medical associations, he provided an advocacy road map for doctors to use. It features three main themes - health care transformation, health equity and advocacy -and each theme has three subthemes. Francescutti, an emergency physician from Edmonton, said there has never been a greater opportunity for the medical profession "to shine." He suggested that it is physicians who "set the tone in our health care system, and it's time to set a positive tone."
The messages he delivered in the packed General Council chambers included:
- "Let's get good value for every dollar spent."
- "Advocacy: that's what the CMA does - we advocate."
Francescutti, who received a standing ovation as his presentation ended, pointed out that the CMA has been around as long as the country. "That tells me we're doing something right," he said.
He concluded with another positive message: "Being a physician is one of the greatest honours society can bestow on an individual. Please don't waste it."
He also asked General Council to grade his presentation and the road map he will use to deliver the CMA's advocacy message during the coming year. Both received a strong positive response. Asked whether the presentation "identifies clearly the areas of focus for the CMA in 2013-14," 90% of delegates agreed or strongly agreed that it did, and 84% agreed or strongly agreed that the presentation "resonates with me."
Dr. John Haggie, the Newfoundland general surgeon who retired from his post as the CMA's past president during the meeting, described the presentation as "a refreshing approach, one that appeared to go over very well."