Thoughts on a year as president, and looking forward

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 59 , No. 4 , May 2017 , Pages 210-211 President's Comment

I was recently asked by a colleague and member of Doctors of BC how I feel about my year as president drawing to a close.


I was recently asked by a colleague and member of Doctors of BC how I feel about my year as president drawing to a close. This certainly deserves some reflection. As many of you know, I worked very hard to earn the support of the profession as your president through two energized election campaigns over the span of a few months. In truth, I’m leaving with a heavy heart and the feeling that, despite the great strides and accomplishments of the last year, there is still much to be done for the profession and health care in BC.

That is the reality about a 1-year term. You realize you can’t make all the progress you advocated for in just 1 year, and, at the end of the day, that it’s about the ongoing value of partnership and succession. The next president will pick up the baton and carry it, just as I did following Dr Charles Webb’s term. 

As a profession we have accomplished much this past year. One of the biggest achievements—the result of the advocacy and work of many past presidents and others—is the move toward our new governance model. This is a significant milestone for our profession and our organization. With a new dual-model structure, one that includes a smaller Board and a Representative Assembly, I believe we will have broader and greater representation for our members. And for the first time, a truly representative body in our association will have an equal number of specialists and GPs—a balance that is extremely important to our ability to govern in a democratic and equitable way. The new governance model also provides a great opportunity for more members to become actively involved in influencing necessary health care transformation. In early May, a call for nominations for delegates to the Representative Assembly will go out. I encourage you to put your name forward and be a part of this transformative change.   

Another issue of ongoing importance to me is that of medical professionalism. I have devoted significant energy this past year to rally GPs and specialists to embrace medical professionalism so that we continue to have a legitimate and influential voice in shaping the care our patients receive. I have met many physicians in all stages of their careers, in every geographic region, who are committed to making a positive difference. We have pockets of communities of practice where physicians have made it their business to understand and support their patients and their vulnerable populations. Colleagues all over the province wake up every morning wanting to make a meaningful difference in the lives of their patients. It has been truly inspiring to see and experience this first hand.

As a physician, now likely in the latter third of my career, I take pride in understanding and supporting our doctors of tomorrow—our medical students and resident physicians. I have truly enjoyed spending quality time with our younger members this year. They readily remind me of the boundless energy and enthusiasm I had when starting out in medicine. In them, I see the potential for great leaders. I see people very dedicated to family medicine and to providing specialized medical care. They are determined to make a positive change in health care. Equally, I have also enjoyed encouraging our more experienced doctors to step up as mentors to these young professionals as they seek to establish medical careers in BC.  

In quiet reflection, I can’t help but look forward, too. I have been pleased to see the growth of our medical staff associations (MSAs) in BC. We now have 58 MSAs made up of facility-based physicians who are participating in the Facility Engagement Initiative, the majority of which came into being over the last year. Our continued goal is to support them so they can have a stronger and more influential voice in health authority decision making. I have witnessed them finding their feet and building confidence, and I look forward to their continued growth and expansion. 

We need the MSAs, the divisions of family practice, and engaged physicians at the local and community level to help us solve one of our biggest challenges—our working relationship with health authorities. Many of our facilities-based physicians in particular still feel that they are struggling to have their voices heard. Physicians have much to offer as front-line health care experts in how services could be delivered to avoid growing wait lists, address flow and access to ERs, support meaningful changes in primary care, and, in parallel, support integrated transitions from hospital to community care. I hope that in the coming year great strides are made in our hospitals so that physicians feel more valued by their health authorities, and their broader voices are heard legitimately and strongly.

It seems like the only constant in medicine is change. Change is inevitable, yet progress is optional. Changes in the coming months and years will clearly impact physician behaviors and services. This is particularly true in the area of primary care as we move toward more team-based approaches. The suggestion of change conjures up many visceral responses, yet I urge physicians and the profession to be both bold and brave! We have a strong leadership role to play. We need to continue to forge those relationships of trust with our partners in health care, no matter how hard it can be sometimes. I believe we can and are now on the cusp of partnering in transformative health care change. Our profession and our patients deserve nothing less.

We can all accomplish a great deal in a year, but we can’t do everything and we certainly can’t do it alone. I have given my all to the role, and I have had a great deal of support and help.

I want to thank the members of our elected Board, the staff of Doctors of BC, and all of our members for your support along this journey. It has been an honor to serve as your president and to represent you and the profession. Being president is a 365-day commitment. It’s a lot of work, and while I admit to feeling justifiably tired physically and emotionally, I also leave with a great sense of promise and hope for the future. In June, I will pass the baton to my successor, Dr Trina Larsen Soles. Be reassured that I and many of your still-active past presidents will be there, in the background and beside her, supporting and encouraging her every step of the way. Thank you for this immense privilege and honor!
—Alan Ruddiman, MBBCh, Dip PEMP, FRRMS
Doctors of BC President

Alan Ruddiman, MBBCh, Dip PEMP, FRRMS. Thoughts on a year as president, and looking forward. BCMJ, Vol. 59, No. 4, May, 2017, Page(s) 210-211 - President's Comment.



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