Canadian Medical Association

CMA Regional Member Forum

With full-day sessions in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa and Edmonton, as well as online discussions, the CMA’s Regional Member Forums – held in January and February this year –  generated thousands of ideas on two major issues facing the profession: physician health and wellness, and Canada’s physician workforce. Today, the CMA is releasing its summary report on the feedback the forums generated, and how it’s using this information to guide its future work.
Here’s a snapshot:

Physician health and wellness

At the Regional Member Forums, members shared stories about the many stressors affecting their well-being, from long work hours to excessive paperwork and changing patient expectations. Members also told us the medical profession needs a culture change, and they want to see more wellness supports put in place and more supportive training and practice environments.

We don't talk about saying 'No thanks' or asking for things we need in order to take care of ourselves. – Ottawa participant

What the CMA’s doing:

  • Recognizing the growing importance of the issue, the CMA recently created a new department in physician health and wellness to expand our work. This year, that team will be releasing more data from the National Physician Health Survey, to complement the results shared last fall on burnout and depression.
  • The CMA will be conducting a national scan of physician health programs across the country, with the goal of building a wellness “hub” to share resources and data across Canada. The CMA’s affinity partnership with MD Financial Management and Scotiabank is also providing funding to physician health and wellness initiatives across the country, including Well Doc Alberta and seven national specialty societies, with funding for additional initiatives anticipated in the coming months.
  • The Canadian Conference on Physician Health in October is being organized by the CMA to showcase research and initiatives for improving health and wellness, and a group of early career CMA members will receive support to attend through the Wellness Ambassador Program.

Physician workforce

Participants in the Regional Member Forums also talked about the need for a national approach on health human resource (HHR) planning, and actions to address the unique challenges facing rural practitioners. We also heard that physicians want to practise medicine differently and use virtual care, artificial intelligence and EMRs, but are struggling to do so in an outdated system.

We need to embrace, learn more and engage...There are lots of opportunities for us to influence how technology is used. We need to lead this as opposed to suffering from it. – Edmonton participant

Members also used the forums to talk about the importance of equity and diversity in medicine: from recognizing generational differences to supporting women in taking on leadership roles to addressing the underrepresentation of Indigenous peoples.

What the CMA’s doing:

  • As a founding member of a new, national task force on virtual care, the CMA will be exploring the barriers to the adoption of virtual technology and reviewing issues of licensure – including how a national system could help address the locum and relief issues facing many rural and remote physicians.
  • The CMA Health Summit this August will provide a forum to discuss health care connectivity. Participants can also share their perspectives on virtual care as part of a special policy session that will inform the work of the task force.
  • With the goal of fostering a more collaborative and respectful professional culture, the CMA is currently developing a policy on equity and diversity in medicine, informed by member feedback. Through the communities of interest program, the CMA is also supporting member engagement and bringing together physicians who are passionate about diversity in medicine.
  • Good planning needs good data. To ensure health care institutions and governments have accurate and up-to-date information on how physicians work today, the CMA is conducting a new physician workforce survey, which will provide data on workloads, renumeration and wait times, and will help inform HHR planning.

I was able to attend all four forums and participate in the online discussion and what came through loud and clear was our members’ passion to make change for their colleagues and patients. Working together, I know we can make an enormous difference in these two areas and many others. – CMA President Dr. Gigi Osler, in her response to the report

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