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With packed agenda, heavy debate expected at annual meeting

Physicians attending the CMA's annual meeting this August had better arrive with a large appetite for debate, because there promises to be plenty of it.

The 146th annual meeting, to be held Aug. 19-21 at Calgary's Telus Convention Centre, will feature a series of "strategic sessions" dealing with three different topics:

  • end-of-life care issues related to palliative care, advance care planning and physician-assisted dying;
  • appropriateness and accountability in relation to clinical decision-making;
  • physician resources and ways to realign the post-graduate training system to support the delivery of care.

"The topics have been chosen based on input from members, and I think they will generate a lot of discussion," said CMA President Anna Reid.

The meeting will begin with a new event, GC Opening Conversations, that will allow the 250-plus General Council (GC) delegates to meet new colleagues and discuss areas of mutual interest relating to the their work and the medical profession.

The first day will be built around a 90-minute session on advance directives and palliative care, which will include input from an expert panel. One of the goals is to obtain policy direction from General Council delegates; the CMA's existing policy resolution on palliative care was adopted in 1994.

The session is a response to a 2012 GC motion, which called on the CMA to "foster a public debate on end-of-life care issues in Canada."

The session on clinical decision-making will include an introduction by Dr. Wendy Levinson of the University of Toronto, a champion of the Choosing Wisely initiative in which American specialty societies are developing lists of "things physicians and patients should question" about medical treatment. The lists are then posted at www.choosingwisely.org. (The American Academy of Family Medicine's 10-item list includes: "Don't perform Pap smears on women younger than 21 or who have had a hysterectomy for non-cancer disease.")

The discussion about physician resources is a response to growing concern about the tough employment situation some doctors, particularly hospital-based specialists, are facing as their residency training ends. The meeting will also feature an education session in which former federal and provincial politicians will offer insights into the ways physician advocacy efforts are filtered through the political prism.

This year's meeting will once again include a 75-minute Members' Forum, which will allow CMA members to question elected officials on association policies or any other issues they wish to raise.

Details about the 2013 meeting are available at www.cma.ca/gc2013.

Forward any comments about this article to: cmanews@cma.ca.