Canadian Medical Assocation
Dr. Gigi Osler

 “I can’t tell you how many young medical students, residents and physicians of colour — particularly the female ones — have come to me to express their appreciation to see someone who looks like them in this leadership role.”


"My initial response was 'Me? Why me? Who would vote for me?'"

Dr. Gigi Osler admits she experienced a case of imposter syndrome when one of her colleagues at a 2016 medical conference suggested she run for president-elect of the CMA. At the time, Dr. Osler was a successful ear, nose and throat surgeon in Manitoba. She was also chair of the Physician Health and Wellness Committee at Doctors Manitoba.

“I couldn’t sleep that night,” she recalls. “The prospect of running terrified me and excited me at the same time, and by morning, the excitement was slightly greater than the terror.”

What excited Dr. Osler was the possibility of elevating discussions about physician health and wellness from a provincial level to a national one.

“For me it was an important issue to advocate for,” Dr. Osler says, “because when physicians aren’t well, when they lose the joy and meaning of being a doctor and practising medicine, it’s heartbreaking to see.”

With her colleagues’ encouragement and her family’s support, Dr. Osler made the decision to run for president-elect. Two years later, in August 2018, she delivered her inaugural speech as CMA president at General Council, in her hometown of Winnipeg.

“We’re not going to get very far by tearing each other down. We need to support each other,” she says. “Through equity, we’ll all rise up."

The timing couldn’t have been better. In 2018, the national discussion around physician health and wellness gained momentum, and since beginning her term, Dr. Osler has been a strong voice on the subject: she has promoted the CMA’s new physician health policy and the results of its National Physician Health Survey, helped the CMA co-host the International Conference on Physician Health in Toronto and welcomed a new Vice-president of Physician Health and Wellness.

Since taking on the role of president of the CMA, Dr. Osler has also spoken out on many other issues important to the medical profession, such as cannabis legalization and the health impacts of climate change. Throughout this work, she has also become conscious of what she represents to many members — the diversity of the profession.

Born to immigrant parents — her father was a physician from India, her mother, a nurse from the Philippines — Dr. Osler is the first female surgeon to hold the position of CMA president, and the first woman of colour.

“I can’t tell you how many young medical students, residents and physicians of colour — particularly the female ones — have come to me to express their appreciation to see someone that looks like them in this leadership role,” she says.

“For me that has led to recognizing how important this platform is and how important my voice is and to try and be a voice of inclusion for everybody in the profession.”

Dr. Osler is also outspoken on the issue of equity and intersectionality. She doesn’t shy away from tackling topics such as the #MeToo movement or the bullying, intimidation and harassment she says still prevail in the medical profession. She is working toward giving women and other under-represented groups in medicine a stronger voice and a seat at the table in medical leadership, academia and administration.

“We’re not going to get very far by tearing each other down. We need to support each other,” she says. “Through equity, we’ll all rise up."

“We can do better for the benefit of all of us in medicine and for the benefit, ultimately, of our patients.”



More Physician stories

Dr. Jane Lemaire

Back in 2004 when Dr. Jane Lemaire became vice-chair of physician wellness in the University of Calgary’s department of medicine, the issue was in its infancy. “In terms of being able to find a resource (on physician wellness), there was almost nothing."

Dr. Jane Lemaire's full story

Ben Fung

In his third year of medical school, while on a clinical rotation at Sunnybrook Hospital, Ben Fung lost a patient. It wasn’t the first time. He had other patients die suddenly, or from trauma. But for Fung, this was more personal.

Ben Fung's full story

Dr. Nav Persaud

It’s a question Dr. Nav Persaud has asked himself too often. “Why did I spend all those years training to become a doctor if at the end of it, when I give someone a diagnosis, they don’t fully benefit because they can’t afford the treatment?”

Dr. Nav Persaud's full story

Dr. Rupa Patel

When Dr. Rupa Patel joined a practice in Kingston, Ontario, in 2010, she faced the biggest challenge of her career. Many of the patients who now came under her care — 30 to 40 people — were on high doses of opioids for chronic pain. 

Dr. Rupa Patel's full story

Dr. Douglas DuVal

It’s a life-threatening reaction to anesthesia that causes a rapid heart rate, a dangerously high fever and severe muscle spasms. The condition is called malignant hyperthermia, and dantrolene is the only drug that can treat it. So when Alberta Health Services (AHS) issued a warning in May 2018 that dantrolene was on back order until late August 2018, the issue of drug shortages hit home for Dr. Douglas DuVal.

Dr. Douglas DuVal's full story

Dr. Clare Liddy

“I had images in my mind, particularly from wintertime, of people coming out of the ambulance huddled under multiple blankets,” remembers Dr. Clare Liddy. 

Dr. Clare Liddy's full story

Dr. Kimberly Wintemute

Three years ago, Dr. Kimberly Wintemute took on a mission — to figure out which patients in her family health clinic were at risk of living in poverty. By knowing people’s economic circumstances, Dr. Wintemute believed, physicians could help reduce the impact that hardship has on their health.

Dr. Kimberly Wintemute's full story

Dr. Matt Kutcher

“I don’t think MAiD should be something that we whisper about or something that we hide anymore. I think the more we speak about it and normalize it, the better.”

Dr. Matt Kutcher's full story

Dr. Kendall Ho

As far as medical monitoring equipment goes, the tools are pretty basic — a blood pressure cuff, a pulse oximeter, a scale and a computer tablet. But in the hands of a patient, Dr. Kendall Ho thinks they can be revolutionary.

Dr. Kendall Ho's full story

Do you have a story to tell?

Are you a CMA member inspiring change in the health care system? Do you know a CMA member doing groundbreaking research or developing innovative programs? We want to hear from you.

Submit a physician story