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Teamwork stressed by CMA’s new president

The CMA’s new president says the arrival of major health care issues, including the legalization of assisted dying and growing concern about care for increasing numbers of Canadian seniors, has created opportunities to improve teamwork within the medical profession.

Referring to her experience as a paddler in war canoe races, Dr. Cindy Forbes said the effectiveness of teamwork aboard these canoes decides the competition outcomes, and medicine can take a lesson from that.

“As we move forward … we’ll continue to serve our patients well by recognizing the importance of human interaction, including our ability to work effectively in teams,” Forbes said. “As humans, just as we are programmed to connect with one another we are also meant to exist as teams.”

Forbes, a family physician from Waverley, NS, who has been in practice for 29 years, said the CMA has a major role to play in supporting teamwork. “We’re a team – we’re Team CMA – and together we have huge opportunities to positively influence the health of Canadians. They deserve better health care, we know it, and we will lead change.”

In her inaugural address, Forbes raised several of the questions facing Canada’s physicians and the CMA:

  • We’re being asked to be more accountable, but to whom? And what form should this accountability take?
  • What does it mean to be a medical professional in 2015?
  • There is unprecedented access to new information, but how do we assess it all and integrate the best of it into our practices?
  • We have become so technologically advanced, but at times are we too technologically dependent?

Forbes, a 1980 graduate of Dalhousie University, is a past president of Doctors Nova Scotia who practised in both Nova Scotia and British Columbia before moving to her current practice in Fall River, NS, 14 years ago.

She stressed that the CMA is playing a major role in key health issues facing Canadians, including seniors care and “in redefining how Canadians might choose to live and die.

“These complex issues are neither easily defined nor easily solved, but we must deal with them, and that’s why we are all here.”

Forbes concluded with another reference to war canoe races. “I’ll leave you with the words that our paddling coach uses to let our team know to get ready because it’s time to go: ‘Paddles ready, paddles up, take it away!’”

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