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Conference focuses on helping MDs deal with multiple roles

Using the lessons learned from performing as an Olympic athlete to help physicians maintain their health was the focus of the opening keynote address at the 4th Canadian Conference on Physician Health held in Winnipeg.

More than 160 delegates attended the two day meeting hosted by Doctors Manitoba, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), and the Canadian Medical Foundation (CMF).

The opening session featured Jennifer Botterill, a three-time Olympic medalist in hockey who has 15 years’ experience speaking about personal development and high-performance psychology.

In her presentation, Botterill drew parallels between the expectations of, and challenges facing, high-performing athletes and physicians. She used her experiences to provide guidance to the audience on how to continually perform at a high level.

“Remember why you love what you do,” she said. Botterill also urged the audience to find small windows of time to recover from the stress associated with work.

“Taking care of yourself may be the most unselfish thing you ever do,” she added later.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Great Expectations: Navigating the competing identities of the modern physician.”

CMA President Cindy Forbes touched on this in her opening remarks to the conference by noting “there are certainly many challenges in being a practicing physician in the 21st century – professionally, technologically and socially.”

“As physicians, we don’t always have a lot of control over what comes at us from our external environment, but we do have control over how we react,” she said. “Being prepared and continuously adapting is critical.”

In his introductory remarks, Doctors Manitoba President David Cram noted that as physicians “we do many things but often we don’t look after ourselves”.

Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, chair of the CMF Board of Trustees, brought greetings via video to the meeting and noted that the foundation is continuing to focus on funding activities related to physician health and well-being.

One major initiative she noted was contract work being undertaken on behalf of the CMF to define minimum standards for provincial physician health programs.

Sessions presented during the first day of the conference included a discussion of the duty to report physicians with health concerns and the medico-legal implications of physician health as well as an overview of projects funded by the Canadian Physician Health Institute.

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