Ask leaders of the provincial and territorial medical associations (PTMAs) to set their own agendas for the day in an unstructured format and they’ll take full advantage of the situation.
That’s what happened at the recent one-day Presidents Forum hosted by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), where PTMA presidents and CEOs participated for the first time in the “Open Space” style of meeting.
Under the direction of facilitator Misha Glouberman, participants were asked to select or join in discussing various topics, with the aim of encouraging networking but not necessarily reaching definitive conclusions on next steps.
Glouberman stressed the aim of what is also known as an “unconference” was to allow unstructured participation to whatever degree each person desired.
Based on comments made during and after the meeting, the approach was a big success.
“This gave me a huge opportunity to meet with other people across the country. I won’t hesitate to reach out given the many new relationships I was able to make thanks to this approach,” said Saskatchewan Medical Association CEO Bonnie Brossart.
Ontario Medical Association President Dr. Ved Tandan said looking at the agenda with no topics, he initially wondered how the format was going to work out but agreed the end result was “fantastic.”
With several discussions taking place during the day, involving groups of two to 15 people in various settings, other participants noted the level of interaction was more intense than at most meetings.
“You have people’s undivided attention,” agreed Yukon Medical Association President Dr. Ken Quong.
Both Tandan and Doctors of BC President Dr. Bill Cavers noted that while each discussion began on a set topic, conversations often “drifted” by consensus onto other issues of interest to the participants.
The topics introduced and discussed touched on many of the main challenges facing the medical profession in Canada today. These ranged from how to make associations more attractive for Generation X and Y to how to deal with “recalcitrant” provincial governments and the face of primary care in 2020.