President’s thoughts at end of term

September 15, 2017

Dear Member:

I would like to thank the membership for the opportunity of allowing me to serve as president of the Alberta Medical Association. I am humbled by the trust that has been placed in me. Serving as president is a tremendous responsibility, which I have taken very seriously.

For me, it has been a rewarding experience. Meeting with many of you around the province, I have been reminded of your intelligence, compassion and expertise. You have all invested many years in training. You work long hours and spend late nights on-call. You see patients and families at their most difficult times, and help guide them through. You balance responsibilities of caregiver, business manager and system protector; any one of which is more than a full-time occupation. You do all of this often with little thanks or appreciation, but for the personal satisfaction of helping people. As I look back over the year, I can think of no other group which I would have been more proud to represent.

This year included an introspective look for the AMA – at who we are, whom we represent and where we see our future. In that spirit, the Board undertook the task of reshaping our Vision, Mission and Values statement. If we truly are going to represent our members in the health care system, we need to be confident that our representations are in keeping with our values and beliefs. I am proud of what the Board has developed with the input of the Representative Forum (RF). I believe it will serve us well for years to come.

There is no greater example of the need to affirm our fundamental mission than our Amending Agreement and all of its multi-layered elements. It was ratified by the general membership this year and is still unfolding. Some of its dimensions have been:

  • Limited financial risk-sharing in exchange for a stronger position in the health care system.
  • The Primary Care Networks (PCNs) Governance Framework will assure the place of PCNs in health care delivery for the citizens of Alberta.
  • Physicians who work under Academic Alternative Relationship Plans will now have the AMA sitting at key committees – making sure their interests are protected as they serve in clinical care, research, teaching and leadership roles.
  • The Strategic Agreement gives some of our members who did not have proper representation rights the support they need and the ability to use binding arbitration.
  • Creation of a Physician Resource Planning Committee – now established in regulations – to develop a needs-based physician resource plan.

The question of income equity has also been prominent this year. As a medical resident in the 1990s, I would hear discussions from staff about income equity and relative value guides. Those discussions have not abated over time. This year the RF has directed that we address the issue.

We believe we need to seek information so that we can understand why payments are distributed as they are. Then, we need to consider whether there is any cause for concern in what we learn. If so, then we need to develop a plan so that concerns can be addressed in the future.

How we treat each other regarding compensation speaks to who we are as doctors, and I look forward to the work ahead. At the end of the day, we must do what is best for the profession and the patients we serve.

That concept will be key to the upcoming negotiations for a new master agreement in 2018. Whether we are examining incomes and payment models, physician resources, or health care system improvements, our upcoming negotiations will have ramifications for years to come in our health care system. There are many opportunities here to improve how we care for our patients. We may have differing opinions on various issues at times, but I believe we can remain united behind this main objective. The greatest wisdom comes from the discussions of the whole.

I want to thank our Board for all of their advice, wisdom and leadership. Dr. Neil Cooper becomes president tomorrow, September 16. I wish him and the new Board every success for the coming year.

It is also important to remember that as we look after our patients, and advocate through our Association, we need to look after ourselves. Take breaks, set limits and spend time with those that matter in our personal lives. It makes us more effective caregivers.

Thank you for giving me the honor of serving as your president.

You can reach me by email: or by leaving a comment below.

Yours truly,

Padraic E. Carr, BMedSc, MD, FRCPC, DABPN

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