As an elected Board and Executive member for the last 5 years, I have been privileged to represent and advocate for you—our members. I know that all physicians representing you at Doctors of BC are committed and work hard to make a positive difference for our profession.
In the last few years Board members have been making a special effort to get out and connect with you in your communities, all around our province. We take this responsibility seriously. In fact, a recent survey of current Board members showed that we feel building this relationship with you is one of our most important responsibilities.
Still, we recognize that there are some gaps. Often, you will have a question or a request for support that you don’t feel requires a call to your Board delegate but is still important to the everyday running of your practice and how you provide the best quality care to your patients. We have heard from some members who live and practise outside the Lower Mainland that you feel it is not always easy to navigate the Doctors of BC system—that it could and should be easier to get answers to your questions. And you have told us you want your association to provide support and service at a local/regional level, where staff can better understand the challenges and issues you face.
We have heard you and we have taken action. Over the last year Doctors of BC has introduced five staff members, called regional advisors and advocates (RAAs), who live and work in the regions of the province that align with health authority boundaries. Their number-one goal is to make things easy for you when you are seeking services or support from your association and to ensure you get a timely response and prompt results. And because they live in your regions, they know and better understand your local circumstances and challenges.
The RAAs have three primary functions:
• Informing you. RAAs will keep you updated and informed on Doctors of BC initiatives and programs of importance to you in your community and more broadly within the profession.
• Connecting with you. RAAs will help you connect with the right people and the appropriate resources at Doctors of BC to get your questions answered.
• Advocating for you. RAAs will connect with Board delegates, the president, senior Doctors of BC staff, and others to support your local advocacy efforts to get your professional voices heard when important decisions are being made in your communities.
The RAAs are Sara Taghipour in Fraser, Allyson Miller for the Island, Brent Weiss in the Interior, and Nicole Newman for Vancouver and the Coast. One additional RAA will be hired in the near future for the North. Each comes with a strong background in the health sector and is committed to helping to meet your needs in your regions and local communities.
They have already, in their first year on the job, played a significant role in supporting our members. For example, they have worked with facility engagement liaisons to help develop and launch the Facility Engagement Initiative, which in turn is assisting in the launch of locally incorporated medical staff associations (MSAs). In some regions, where MSAs are facing challenging issues with their health authorities, the RAAs have pulled together physician leaders and senior staff to advise physicians on how best to advocate for and find solutions to these challenges.
The RAAs developed and helped coordinate the very successful first Doctors of BC Education Day for members in the North, an event we are expecting will now spread across the province. As your president I was delighted to participate. It was gratifying to interact freely and openly with so many of our peers and colleagues in the North. And although Education Day is intended for members, I actually think events like this are important as a way for us to hear—in person—your views on matters of importance to you. It’s time to spread this valued educational event more broadly, with Board delegates and your president enthusiastically participating.
The RAAs have also taken countless calls from physicians to answer their questions. Sometimes that is as simple as determining who you need to connect with about a business service or member benefit you receive from our organization. Not sure whom to call? Your RAA is there not only to give you a contact name but, more often, they will help solve the problem for you. They will cut through any confusion and save you time, always a precious commodity in our busy professional lives.
I would like to take a moment now to touch on the matter of advocacy. I recognize that the relationships between health authorities and physicians can be strained at times, and we are determined to set this straight in a collaborative manner. We will do our part and the heath authorities must do theirs. The physician voice in advocating for issues on quality of patient care, timely patient access to appropriate services, and adequate resourcing of our health care facilities where deficiencies are known to exist must be addressed and appropriately remediated. We are adding the RAAs to the team to support you in this most meaningful and timely endeavor. We ask you to also do your part.
As always, your elected Board delegates and representatives will ensure that physician advocacy, the physician voice, and strong physician representation broadly across the profession are maintained and enhanced. We heard the many voices that have told us you want better local engagement, and I believe as an association, and as a profession, we have responded. Colleagues, we have some serious work to do. I will expand on this in upcoming blogs, comments, and newsletters, and through my president’s tour coming to a community near you in the upcoming months.
I take pride and am reassured in knowing that the profession is increasingly engaged, is advocating strongly on behalf of our patients, and that we all have a role to play—you included. Let’s make 2017 a year that will be remembered for the profession being drawn together once again as we prepare for the serious and significant challenges that we face in standing up for our valued health care system.
To contact your regional advisor and advocate, visit the Doctors of BC website at www.doctorsofbc.ca.
—Alan Ruddiman, MBBCh, Dip PEMP, FRRMS
Doctors of BC President