In your service: a new president’s thoughts

October 7, 2019

Dr. Christine Molnar, AMA President

Dear Members:

It is a great honor to represent our profession as AMA president.

I have been a physician for 43 years. I have practiced my dual specialty in Calgary at the Foothills Medical Centre and in EFW Radiology’s community clinics for 34 years. I now come before you simply as a physician devoted to our profession.

Over the course of my career, through the ups and the downs, I have been driven with passion and integrity by my vision of compassion and quality-based health care. I now commit that energy and dedication to you and this organization.

The health care system, created with Medicare in the 1970s, existed in a very different world than the one we live in today. In my own practice, PET CT – only a dream then – has revolutionized the way we evaluate cancer.

The digital revolution has changed our world and is radically transforming the way we practice medicine. We are beginning to see a transition away from a scarcity-based system to one of abundance.

In the past, physicians were repositories of knowledge. We read the texts. We owned the knowledge. We used our expertise to help our fellow humans. Now, the workplace is different with both physicians and patients using applications such as Google to find the information they need. Medical knowledge has been democratized.

We see the impact of shared knowledge and communication in many spheres. I recently read a research article that looked at improving math performance of challenged school children. The assumption was that more intense, costly intervention such as tutors would be the most effective. To the surprise of researchers, results actually showed simple text messaging to parents was a low-cost, but effective, solution to providing students with support to succeed. If simple solutions can impact education, we can expect similar unanticipated successes in medicine.

As physicians, we understand that the health care system as we know it is not sustainable. This is a critical time for our profession. We are facing challenges but there is also enormous opportunity for positive change.

Physicians are both leaders in science and within our communities. We are passionate about helping patients and consider it our duty to collaborate to improve our health care system.

The Government of Alberta must consider us as valued partners and seek our medical knowledge and expertise when they contemplate changes that will affect patients. The AMA is trusted and qualified. Our track record demonstrates we are willing and able to be part of solutions for our patients.

Many of us had the chance to review the Report and Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances, released last month. We know this report will have the most positive impact if the AMA is involved in moving the recommendations into action.

The government’s health platform included commitments that physicians support:

  • Enabling the medical home, which will improve Albertans’ health tremendously. We celebrate that Alberta already leads other provinces in operationalizing the medical home. The literature shows its potential to reduce costs in the system at large.
  • We agree with the need to address wait times, which only serve to prolong needed diagnosis and intervention. Long wait times add to overall health care costs while Albertans suffer. Together we can improve patient care by supplementing surgical resources within our communities.
  • We stand behind the commitment to supporting seniors and the elderly at home in the community; it is the right thing to do. It is not only compassionate, it yields significant cost savings.
  • We agree that new directions are needed to support those challenged by mental illness and those who struggle with addiction.

Change is coming and as a profession we must be organized and actively involved. I invite you to partner with our fellow Albertans across this province to find novel solutions to the challenges we face.

The renowned anthropologist Margaret Meade wrote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The AMA is exactly the kind of organization that is capable of driving this change. Through your dedication and the unity of our profession, we can move our health care system toward a sustainable, effective future.

I will write frequently about a variety of issues; the next topic will be changes to the Physician On-Call Program within Alberta Health Services. Please let me know what you think on any topic, today and throughout my term. You can reach me by email at president@albertadoctors.org if you would like a direct response. You can also comment publicly on this letter below; please note those comments are public even if you are logged in as a member.

I am humbled by the opportunity I have been given and look forward to working with you.

In your service,

Christine P. Molnar, MD, FRCPC Nuclear Medicine
FRCPC Diagnostic Radiology
President, Alberta Medical Association

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