Canadian Medical Association

Medical student and CMA Ambassador Devon Mitchell at CMA Election Readiness day

It’s more than 3,500 kilometres from Edmonton to Montreal. Yet somehow, it was in Montreal – while attending the Canadian Conference on Physician Leadership (CCPL) – that Dr. Thilinie Rajapakse ended up seated next to the Alberta Health Services’ Chief Medical Officer. It was a chance encounter, but one that proved to her the value of the CMA Ambassador Program.

“Where I work in Alberta, I would never get that opportunity. To be able to sit informally with a senior leadership colleague – someone I would usually have to wait weeks or months to meet with officially – it was a great benefit.” – Dr. Thilinie Rajapakse, CMA Ambassador

A pediatric neurologist at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, Dr. Rajapakse joined the CMA Ambassador Program a few years ago to develop her leadership skills. This spring, she was one of nine Ambassadors funded to attend CCPL.

Dr. Rajapakse says the event helped her hone her personal leadership skills, and introduced new ideas about leading larger teams and contributing to better medicine within large organizational structures.

“Most of the meetings physicians go to are academic or scientific, where you present research and people talk about their clinical work,” explains Dr. Rajapakse. “CCPL is a conference about people, how to work with people, how to network – the administrative side of medicine that doesn’t always get its fair share of acknowledgement or training.”

CCPL is just one of many events CMA Ambassadors have had the opportunity to attend this year, through the combined support of CMA, MD and Scotiabank. Third-year medical student Devon Mitchell was one of seven Ambassadors who took part in the CMA’s Election Readiness Day in Ottawa in April.

Participants in the day-long event learned about voters’ views on health as an election issue, political strategy, and crafting messages during a campaign. Coming from BC, Mitchell says the event helped frame his involvement in the upcoming federal election.

“We’re in a different place this election – it could be very competitive – and that creates a unique space for physicians to be able to put our issues forward, and push candidates to advance issues that matter to us, and ultimately, our patients.” – Devon Mitchell, CMA Ambassador and third-year medical student

In the coming months, more than 90 CMA Ambassadors are also being sponsored to attend the CMA Health Summit in August, and the Canadian Conference on Physician Health in October.

CMA Ambassador Dr. Rajapakse says it’s important support for an aspect of medicine that’s sometimes overlooked.

“We’re really just scratching the surface about how important medical leadership is to sustaining the health care system in Canada, and I really think it’s important to pass that interest onto others.”

Check your inbox July 22 for more info on Ambassador opportunities to attend CCPH.

About Affinity contributions

Scotiabank, MD Financial Management (MD) and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) together are firmly committed to supporting the medical profession and advancing health in Canada. As proof of this commitment, and in collaboration with the CMA and MD, Scotiabank will invest $115 million over the next 10 years to support physicians and the communities they serve across Canada.

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