Addressing Systemic Issues

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Dr. Nancy Whitmore

In our last issue of Dialogue, we addressed the growing concern of physician burnout. We are hearing more and more about this epidemic through several sources, including data collected from our new Quality Improvement program. At our September Council meeting, we had Dr. Ken Milne present to our Council on physician burnout. ‘BatDoc’, as some of you may know him, gave a heartfelt account of his own journey managing life as an emergency physician while processing the grief of losing his father and brother in a very short period of time. He shared details of his journey and an important message about kindness.  

I encourage you to view Dr. Milne’s presentation on his blog, The Skeptics Guide to Emergency Medicine. I also want to remind you about the resources available on our website for any physician who is struggling. It is critically important that physicians in Ontario are healthy and well in order to provide great care to the patients they serve. 

In this issue, we are addressing another major concern — the ongoing problem of anti-Black racism and its effects on health services. Please read these important articles in this issue regarding diversity and racism. There will be more on systemic racism in future editions of Dialogue, as well. This is an ongoing challenge that we need to continue talking about. 

Many of you in emergency medicine know about Dr. Barbara Tatham and the impact she made in her very short time as a physician. Dr. Tatham was diagnosed with cancer just one year after receiving her independent license to practice medicine. In this issue of Dialogue, we give a tribute to Dr. Tatham and the incredible legacy she left after an extraordinary time as both physician and patient. Her deep commitment to empathy and the dynamics of the doctor-patient relationship are relevant and important to anyone in medicine. I encourage you to read the article and share it with your colleagues. 

We are at an important time in the pandemic. Many of us are waiting anxiously to see how things will evolve, while carrying on with the ‘new normal.’ While virtual medicine is here to stay, we continue to ask all physicians to use their professional judgement to determine whether to provide care virtually or in-person. Although the profession has avidly adopted virtual care and it is often an excellent option, there are other times that in order to provide appropriate care, the patient needs to be seen in person (physical exam, vaccinations, when you can’t get adequate details through a virtual visit and/or you are concerned about the patient). It is also important to be mindful of marginalized populations and those that don’t have access to technology. Please stay informed by following the CPSO FAQs for all things COVID and care-related.  

Finally, by the time you receive this issue in the mail, our new member portal will be up and running! This is an extraordinary step forward for CPSO as we are now able to provide physicians in Ontario with a modern electronic interface to access their membership and related services.  

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy fall season. 

Warm regards,