As a family doctor and physician leader for more than three decades, Dr. Kathleen Ross knows the power of community in leading change.
“One positive signal I saw in our response to COVID-19 was that for that moment in time we came together for a common purpose,” she says. “We proved our behemoth of a health care system had the ability to be nimble.”
Now, the challenge is to resist the pull of the status quo and build on that momentum.
The current crisis in family medicine — which she calls the bedrock of Canada’s health care system — is particularly close to Dr. Ross’s heart.
Based in Coquitlam and New Westminster, BC, Dr. Ross does clinical work in community primary care and obstetrics. She is also a cardiovascular surgical assistant at Royal Columbian Hospital.
“There’s so much value in being able to discuss medical concerns with someone who knows you, knows your context and knows your family,” she says. “Sometimes there are five generations in one room and I may well have delivered two of them.”
During her term as CMA president-elect, as well as her tenure as president of Doctors of BC, Dr. Ross has raised awareness about Canada’s primary care crisis, lack of access to care and the deterioration of physician wellness.
When she assumes the role of CMA president on Aug. 16, Dr. Ross, will continue to press for change at this pivotal time — advancing solutions to address access to care which is foremost on Canadians’ mind. These solutions include increasing physician supply, reducing administrative burden, pan-Canadian licensure, and making our health system safe for both patients and providers.
“This is a moment to be part of something much larger and greater than ourselves. We can each do our part to strengthen the community around us, and our community of medicine,” she says.
Dr. Ross has seen first-hand how cracks in Canadian health care have turned into chasms. But she’s also seen what physicians working together, drawing from their experience inside the health system, can accomplish.
“I believe that information management and technology is a piece of the solution, but so many of our solutions don’t take physician workflow into account from the beginning.”
Outside of her clinical work and physician leadership roles, Dr. Ross is an avid community volunteer, both at home and abroad. She joined Rotary International in 2015 to implement community-led health programs around the world, including in Peru and Kenya. In 2020, she joined the board of directors for Rotary World Help, which collects medical equipment and supplies destined for the landfill and ships them around the world.
“I firmly believe Robert Ingersoll’s quote - we rise by lifting others,” she says.