The summer solstice marks a change of seasons and the most daylight we will see in Canada for the rest of the year.
The summer solstice marks a change of seasons and the most daylight we will see in Canada for the rest of the year. It seems an appropriate time to consider life changes, transitions, and new challenges. It is 3 June that marks the start of my year as president of Doctors of BC. It will be a year of change for the organization as we embrace and work through the logistics of implementing a new governance structure. We must be vigilant to ensure that the process is a positive experience for all of us as members of Doctors of BC.
On a personal level, this year marks a major transition in my life as I move from clinical practice into 12 months acting as the spokesperson for our provincial medical association. My journey began with an unintentional involvement in local medical politics. Rural practice is a great crucible for developing leadership skills, mainly because small physician numbers catapult individuals into roles they would not have ordinarily assumed until much later in their careers. In my case, I took a few weeks off when I had my first child, and returned to work to find I had been appointed chief of the medical staff. I probably would have done my turn and nothing else if the ensuing decade had not brought us more difficulties with accessing services for our patients and more problems recruiting and retaining physicians. Local involvement opened the door to challenges on the regional, provincial, and national levels. It turns out the working environment in my rural practice is directly affected by the function of the provincial health system and the policies implemented by those in high places. No matter how hard we work to fix local crises, if the system as a whole is dysfunctional, then these crises will reoccur or worsen.
I developed an interest in the development of health policy and in advocacy, and I have worked hard to improve health care delivery for patients, communities, and physicians. Although I have been heavily involved in the rural side of things, I have also worked at Doctors of BC and the CMA on issues that affect all of us. I have learned it is the communications, networks, and relationships we develop that allow us to get things done. I love the practice of medicine and am proud to be part of such a wonderful profession, but our system is struggling. I want things in BC to be better for all patients, all physicians, and all other providers—no matter where in the province they practise. As your president, I will work hard to reach this goal.
During my term I want to focus on issues affecting access to services. As a clinician, a major frustration is the time wasted trying to access appropriate care for my patients. This should be a seamless process. There is a lack of capacity in our system that is partly due to a lack of resources, but also due to suboptimal organization of the resources we do have. Resulting delays in access cause increased morbidity, mortality, and cost. To fix these issues, we need a collaborative effort of all partners involved in health care delivery in our province. We need politicians, administrators, health care providers, universities, and patients addressing the problems together. We need strong physician leadership at all levels. Access issues encompass all the things I care about—access for vulnerable populations both rural and urban, patient-transportation issues across all areas of our province, and improving support for the physicians of BC who are doing an amazing job with limited resources to deliver the best care they can.
What I am asking for from the members of this organization is that you tell me your stories. The clinical experiences of our patients and providers are the most powerful messages we can bring forward to inform the renewal of our health care system. Doctors of BC is your organization—it should listen to your concerns as we work on policy, advocacy, and negotiations. I will endeavor to connect with as many of you as possible by e-mail, by phone, or in person throughout my term. Our motto is “Better. Together.” And there is work to be done. I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve the profession and will do my best for you over the coming year.
—Trina Larsen Soles, MD
Doctors of BC President
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