This article originally appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of the Ontario Medical Review magazine.
Health-care leadership outside of the exam room is an extension of our oath to do no harm. Many of the key lessons learned as a leader come directly from the work we do with our patients. Making a difference in somebody’s life with compassion, empathy and humility is a directly translatable skillset.
By leveraging our clinical expertise, knowledge and insights, we can drive positive changes to how health care is delivered.
As OMA president, I have the opportunity to meet with members from across specialties. In northern Ontario, family doctors, who also provide emergency care, told me about their unsustainably high workloads. They are forced to sacrifice their primary care practices to keep emergency departments open. These are the stories that we support with evidence to bring forward to decision-makers. The importance of advocacy in our single-payer system cannot be overstated. And we are the right people to be doing this – because as physicians, we are not only caregivers but leaders. It is what we signed up for even if we didn’t understand what it meant at the time.
Despite our exhaustion, more than 100 physicians joined me at our biggest advocacy event at Queen’s Park in the fall. We met with more than 70 politicians, including cabinet ministers and MPPs from all parties.
And the government is listening. We see our fingerprints all over legislation passed in the past three years. Is it perfect? No. But being at the table and influencing change is so much more important than being shut out of the building, as we have been for a good part of the past 20 years.
The OMA aims to strengthen physicians’ leadership role in caring for patients and to highlight the important role we play in system transformation.
The OMA’s Prescription for Ontario: Doctors’ Solutions for Immediate Action outlines our solutions to the health-care system’s most urgent issues. Within this report we have brought forward 11 solutions to address urgent issues in primary care, systemic physician burnout, and expanding and integrating home- and community-based care.
It’s because of your input during consultations and the ideas you brought forward that we were successful in getting all four political parties to commit to working with Ontario’s doctors to effect change.
As we speak with government and advocate for change, we need doctors’ voices to be loud.
Doctors need to be part of the solution. Doctors are the solution.
We look forward to continuing positive and productive discussions with the government and elected officials of all parties, building on this momentum to advocate for the critical issues that matter most to doctors and the health of all Ontarians.
I’ve entered the second half of my term as your president, and I don’t intend on letting up on my focus to leave a better system behind for myself, my family, my patients and all of you.
Dr. Andrew Park