A fair contract for clinical faculty

I read with interest your editorial concerning the Northern Medical Program at UNBC [BCMJ 2006;48(4):157-158]. I agree that UBC’s devolution of medical education to the regions has much to commend it in terms of improving recruitment and retention of medical personnel and addressing the unique health needs of people in the North.

You comment that “…[Prince George clinical faculty] have the same concerns as the UBC main campus clinical faculty regarding how they are viewed by the rest of the permanent faculty members and the dean’s office: there is a significant difference between what the clinical faculty and the dean’s office feel is adequate compensation (recognition) for their time and expertise, and a resolution to this problem must be found quickly…”

Unfortunately, the problem is far greater than this, and as UBC attempts to recruit new and reappoint old clinical faculty at fresh sites to double its training capacity, there is a growing frustration among clinical faculty with UBC’s apparent inability or unwillingness to work with them as partners. As things stand many prospective clinical faculty teachers have serious reservations about signing a contract with UBC.

You quite rightly point out that if UBC does not get this right and fails to recruit sufficient qualified clinical faculty (who already do 70% of UBC’s teaching), expansion of its student training capacity, and ultimately the output of new doctors, will falter and both the government and the public will begin to look for those responsible.

I have been a clinical teacher for over 30 years at all levels from year 2 to residency in partnership with the UBC Faculty of Medicine, but times have changed. Decreased clinical resources, increased patient loads, and altered lifestyle perceptions of trainees have made it impossible to devote time to teaching gratis. It is time for the university Faculty of Medicine to abandon its “command-and-control mindset” and enter an era of real partnership with their fellow educators in clinical faculty.

“Partnership” and “command and control” are not compatible. This is why the BC Medical Association has decided to enter the picture and to begin a dialogue with the Faculty of Medicine aimed at generating a fair contract for clinical faculty.

I would submit that such a contract must include recognition of clinical faculty’s right to independent representation, protected time for teaching, and an independent mechanism for dispute resolution. The University’s full-time faculty will accept nothing less, and neither should clinical faculty.

—Richard Loomer, MD
New Westminster

Richard Loomer, MD,. A fair contract for clinical faculty. BCMJ, Vol. 48, No. 6, July, August, 2006, Page(s) 257 - Letters.

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