Canadian Medical Association

Dr. Joss Reimer

Physician burnout is a deeply personal issue for Dr. Joss Reimer.

“During my residency, I had some very dark days where I thought, ‘I can’t be a doctor, I can’t do this,’” she says. “But when I had the right supports in place, I achieved more than I ever thought I would in my career.”

Recovering from burnout motivated Dr. Reimer to drive change — now as the CMA’s new president.

“Doctors are overwhelmed and frustrated; they aren’t able to give care to patients the way they want to, especially in primary care and emergency care,” she says. “We need to create work environments where physicians can thrive.”

The daughter of a rural Manitoba family physician, Dr. Reimer knows all too well the demands of the medical profession.

“When I was growing up, I saw how hard my father worked. But I also saw what medicine could be and how rewarding it is. It’s true that nothing worth doing is going to be easy.”

Dr. Reimer completed her medical education at the University of Manitoba and McMaster University, training several years in obstetrics and gynecology before finishing a public health specialty. Most recently, she was the chief medical officer for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

She has worked as the medical lead and official spokesperson for Manitoba’s COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Taskforce and as the medical director of public health for Winnipeg. In 2022, she was named as Humanitarian of the Year by Doctors Manitoba.

In addition to leadership roles, Dr. Reimer has maintained a clinical practice in women’s health, with expertise including health equity, immunizations, sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections and harm reduction.

“When patients put their trust in you for something so important — their health — it gives you a sense of responsibility to your community,” she says. “What I love about medicine is there are so many opportunities to make a difference.”

During her term as CMA president-elect, Dr. Reimer’s advocacy focused on improving patients’ access to care while helping doctors find the joy in medicine.

“Physicians go into medicine because they want to care for people. It’s about building trusting relationships with patients,” she says. But the current state of health care — staffing shortages, relentless paperwork and long wait times — is putting that in jeopardy.

“It’s so disheartening when you have a waiting room of people, but you need to fill out insurance forms and sick notes, taking time away from what matters.”

The CMA’s work to reduce physicians’ administrative burden, bolster team-based care and develop pan-Canadian licensure are just some of Dr. Reimer’s advocacy priorities as she assumes the presidency.  

“We are still in a health care crisis,” she says. “It is critical physician voices are heard by decision makers.”

For the first three months of her presidency, Dr. Reimer will be sharing responsibilities with co-president Dr. Kathleen Ross.

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