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​Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD): A CMA-sponsored community of interest

Communities of interest are a way for physicians, medical learners, patients and health care professionals to connect and share resources, experiences and best practices − across Canada.

In 2018, the CMA created a grant program to help support new and existing communities. In July, five grants were awarded to CMA members building communities around the following topics: Indigenous health, equity in medicine, substance use, medical assistance in dying, and medical care for vulnerable populations.

This is the third in a series of profiles of each CMA-sponsored community of interest.

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Throughout her career, Dr. Stefanie Green has made a point of connecting with other physicians.

Twenty years ago, when she started working in maternity and newborn care, she joined a Canada-wide electronic mailing list for doctors delivering babies. It was a way to connect with mentors and colleagues on a range of care issues, such as treating hypertension in pregnancy.

In 2016, Dr. Green found herself seeking out this same support again, this time as a physician providing medical assistance in dying (MAiD).

“It was brand new work, it was scary, it was something that had never been done and we didn’t really know what to expect,” explains Dr. Green. “To have a small group connect and provide support for each other was crucial.”

That small group of MAiD providers quickly grew, eventually becoming a national non-profit organization called the Canadian Association of MAID Assessors & Providers (CAMAP). In just two years, the group Dr. Green co-founded reached 300 members, with representatives from every province and territory.

Yet until recently, CAMAP’s national electronic mailing list was only available to providers − the medical professionals who administer the life-ending medications.

Now, thanks to a CMA Communities of Interest Grant, Dr. Green is able to expand the CAMAP group to offer professional peer support to the broader MAiD community: the assessors who evaluate whether a patient is eligible, as well as the nurses, pharmacists, speech and language specialists, administrators, lawyers, social workers and counsellors who work in the field.

“We wanted to grow our community to include all members of the MAiD team, because everyone has a really important role and can influence each other.”

Dr. Green is using the grant to create a “national online forum” with various levels of access. All members of CAMAP will have access to a general MAiD forum and can interact with anyone in that space. In addition, there’s a gated forum specifically for assessors, as well as a forum exclusive to providers.

The funding from the CMA is also being used to train moderators for each of the forums, to upgrade software and to expand the number of discussion threads to a range of issues associated with MAiD.

“There are unique issues for different members of the team and I think they’ll benefit from connecting with peers across the country as well as participating in the general discussion about MAiD with the entire team. I’m hoping to enrich the forum to make all of that happen,” says Dr. Green.

Dr. Green considers herself an experienced provider, having facilitated more than 100 medically assisted deaths in B.C. over the last two years. She says as more Canadians demand this type of end-of-life care, the number of family physicians choosing to get involved is growing.

She sees the MAiD community of interest as the perfect place for them to find answers.

“Because it’s a new field of medicine, there’s more willingness to use this resource to reach out and say ‘Hey! This is all new to me. Who has done this before and what can you tell me?’” says Dr. Green.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty and fear that comes along with this new field that this kind of support can help allay.”

To learn more or to join the MAiD community of interest, contact yourvoice@cma.ca. *Please note that you must become a member of CAMAP to join this community of interest.

CMA president-elect to speak about MAiD to UK parliamentarians
President-Elect Dr. Sandy Buchman is traveling to the United Kingdom (UK) next week to share Canada’s experience with medical assistance in dying (MAiD) with members of parliament in London and Scotland.

Dr. Buchman will present the CMA’s role in the development of federal legislation and the extensive consultations the CMA undertook with members and the public. He will also share his own experience as a physician provider, including the ethical and practical challenges of implementing MAiD.

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