Canadian Medical Association

Physicians are driven by the need to help others, and to improve their quality of life. “Patients are at the core of what we do, “ explains CMA Board member Dr. Carl Nohr. “Everything in the practice of medicine exists because of our mandate to look after patients.” 

Yet technology is quickly changing this relationship; wearable devices allow patients to monitor their vital signs, and there are vast amounts of information online about medical conditions. 

“We have become partners with patients, on co-creating value for them, not just providing them with information they wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” says Dr. Nohr.

Recognizing this changing relationship was central to the creation of the CMA’s 2020 plan, and the commitment to bring a patient-empowered perspective to the work we do. Patient engagement is not new for the CMA. We actively engaged patients through our town halls on medical assistance in dying, and our national Demand a Plan campaign. But we wanted to do more.

The CMA Patient Voice is our newest patient engagement initiative. It will be comprised of about a dozen representatives, plus two appointed CMA Board members, from communities across Canada. The goal is to bring an informed patient perspective to the CMA’s work, and to highlight emerging issues that matter to patients and the public. 

Hearing the patient perspective will also improve care by helping us see our work through others’ eyes. Dr. Linda Slocombe, vice-chair of the CMA Board, says she sees this need for the patient perspective in her own practice in Calgary. “I think it is important to keep us grounded,” says Dr. Slocombe. “I think we know as physicians that as the health care system becomes busier, with hospitals at full capacity, the patient voice is being lost, and we don’t really understand the whole picture unless we ask patients about their experience.”

The CMA Patient Voice will be looking for participants in early summer; the call for nominations will be launched this May, and you can find out more about the process here. Should you be interested in receiving information about the call, or know someone who should be a representative, please send an email to

The CMA embraces the opportunity to bring a patient-empowered perspective to our work, and the CMA Patient Voice will help ensure we’re hearing from a diversity of voices.

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