After reading through the BCMJ, the CMAJ, and the esteemed Vancouver Sun this Saturday morning, and noticing additional coverage in the Sun and on CBC radio through the week, I have a few observations.
From the public point of view, docs may be sounding whiny. As family practitioners in Canada we are in a privileged position and may need to up the ante by initiating change, starting within our own ranks.
When it comes to exercise, we should be modeling the behaviors and lifestyle choices we promote to our patients, not just thinking, “I should do it,” but rather “How am I going to do this?” We are good at problem solving. Should the BCMA provide all docs with a Nike+ FuelBand to keep track of activity? Walk With Your Doc is a wonderful idea, but it is just a start. Let us challenge docs to get fitter, in the same way that we are advising patients to do so.
In my experience teaching FP residents and medical students for the last 5 years, I hear from both male and female students that they are seeking a work-life balance. This does not make them any less likely to be great docs. In fact, having properly balanced life and career priorities might enable them to be even more engaged with their patients. We should be helping docs get away from taking work home in the evenings, being on 24/7 call, and working in solo practices—these practices are hard on physicians and their families.
The challenge for all of us as physicians is to learn to delegate tasks, learn new business models in medicine, form call groups and use them, and be mindful of how we are practising medicine. We need to ask ourselves, “Is this the best use of my skills and my time? Is this the most efficient way?” By changing the way we practise, perhaps we can find more capacity for new patients and shorten waits for specialists.
The BCMA will have to take a leadership role in helping physicians make changes to how we run our practices. We need mentors who can come into our practices and advise us: perhaps a doctor, an MBA, a lawyer, and a small business owner, or a pilot. Maybe we should look south to the US or across the water for new models of practice and patient care.
These are the changes the public would like to see, and the changes we owe ourselves as a profession.
—Beth Watt, MD
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