Rising to the Challenge

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Dr. Judith Plante

Dear Colleagues,

It is a privilege to write to you all in my new role as Council President of the College.

“I thank you for your dedication, courage and ongoing professionalism.”

I am honoured to participate in leading the profession in these times of unprecedented medical challenges and I am hopeful vaccines will have begun to improve the overall picture by the time you read this letter. As we wait for that reprieve, I thank you for your dedication, courage and ongoing professionalism as you continue to care for your patients under these extraordinary circumstances.

The pandemic has changed how many of you work by forcing a significant number of physician-patient interactions to move online. As I write this, the province remains under various levels of restrictions and the government is asking that we prioritize virtual encounters where it is possible, appropriate and safe to do so. We recognize how important virtual care — in all its forms — has been over the past year in allowing us an alternative means to connect with patients. It is not, however, always sufficient to provide care virtually, even when it is technically possible. Physical examinations cannot be adequately replaced by the review of images. In addition, a direct face-to-face discussion allows nuances to be appreciated that are more easily missed in a virtual visit. As a result, most doctors need to provide a combination of in-person and virtual care, striking the right balance between the two options based on the nature of the practice and the needs of specific patients. We need to continue discussing this balancing act with patients, so they understand the pros and cons of these care options. For the foreseeable future, this is the ‘new normal,’ with all of us adjusting to the evolving nature of the pandemic. If you do provide virtual care, I would encourage you to read the new guidance from the Information and Privacy Commissioner who reminds us that the privacy law that applies to in-person visits extends to virtual care. We have an article about the new guidance, describing some of the privacy safeguards that must be in place.

“For the foreseeable future, this is the ‘new normal,’ with all of us adjusting to the evolving nature of the pandemic.”

While still on the topic of the pandemic, its arrival coincided with the launch of our Quality Improvement Program. We adjusted the report dates for the first few cohorts but, overall, we were able to adapt and rollout a learning experience that, to date, has received many positive reviews. In this issue of eDialogue, we feature a Q&A with two medical advisors involved in the program: Drs. Mary Manno and Ted Everson. They predict the program’s impact will be deeply felt and allow CPSO to interact with more physicians more frequently than ever before, and in a more collaborative manner.

Other ongoing work at the College includes the review of several policies, including Medical Assistance in Dying; Professional Obligations and Human Rights; and Planning for and Providing Quality End of Life Care. I encourage you to participate in the consultation process — your concerns and ideas for improvement make for richer discussion at Council and, in the end, a better, more informed policy.

I look forward to sharing with you, in this forum, more about our initiatives over the coming year.

I hope to meet with many of you, virtually of course, and hear your thoughts and concerns as we continue to navigate through the uncharted waters of this pandemic. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do in these difficult times.