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Outgoing CMA President praises “soul” of medicine

​In her valedictory address wrapping up her year as President of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), Dr. Cindy Forbes urged her colleagues to unite in the face of the challenges facing physicians and fears that medicine has "lost its soul."

"I do not believe that we are a profession that has lost its soul," said Dr. Forbes. "If anything, I believe that the values that are reflected in the oath that we all take, the values that brought us to this profession in the first place, are as strong as they have ever been."

Dr. Forbes cited challenges brought on by the "shifting landscape" of information, communication, technology and evolving public expectations as key issues driving some of the angst being felt by physicians.

"I believe that a gap exists between what society expects and what we can currently provide," said Dr. Forbes. "I believe that we do need to redefine our role in this new paradigm, that we need to be stewards of the health care system, that we must be leaders in the transformation of health care."

In describing her year as president, Dr. Forbes highlighted the CMA's advocacy work during last year's federal election as a high point, particularly the connection the association made with Canadians during the campaign.

"Through media interviews, social media, our MD-MP Contact Program, town hall meetings, our partnership with other health and community organizations, and our social networking through Demand a Plan, we mobilized the support of thousands of individuals," said Dr. Forbes. "That shifted the conversation during the election to include health care and now we are determined to ensure that those promises are kept and that new opportunities like the negotiation of a new Health Accord will result in improved care and improved health for Canadians."

As Dr. Forbes highlighted her year of meeting physicians, policymakers and many others, she said it was a young woman from Quebec who reminded her of "the great privilege we have in serving others."

"This young woman never mentioned tests, diagnoses or treatment," Dr. Forbes said of the woman's description of her doctor. "What I heard her describe was the compassion and respect with which she was treated and her testimony of the opportunity we have as a physicians to make a huge difference in people's lives."

Watch a clip of Dr. Forbes' speech.

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