Dr. J. Bellas Recipient of National Educator Award

Dr. Jonathon Bellas, Section of General Internal Medicine, received the 2017 PA Educator Award               at the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) President’s Gala on October 28, 2017 in Ottawa.

This national award honours an individual who has made a significant impact on the education of Physician Assistants in Canada in both the clinical and academic components of the program and in the advancement of PA education in Canada.

Dr. Bellas is the Medical Director of the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) Program at the University of Manitoba.

On behalf of Dr. E. Renner, Dr. N. Hajidiacos and the Department of Internal Medicine we extend our congratulations to Dr. Bellas  on receipt of the 2017 PA Educator Award.

http://news.umanitoba.ca/professor-recognized-as-outstanding-pa-educator/

Record Attendance at Global Biobank Week

Global Biobank Week provides a global platform for comprehensive discussion and collaboration on activities important to biobanking and biopreservation of samples and data for research.

Dr. Brent Schacter, Section of Medical Oncology & Hematology, was the Vice-Chair of Global Biobank Week held in Stockholm, Sweden in September. The meeting attracted 860 participants, making it the largest biobanking conference ever held.

 

Whose Patients?

Recently, I was talking to one of my colleagues from the University of Elsewhere on the phone. When we had resolved the issue that led to our phone call, our discussion touched informally on some topics of mutual interest such as waiting times for our outpatient clinics. I have to preface what follows by stating that my colleague is a middle aged male, well respected as a physician and academic in his field, a man of sound and balanced judgment, and definitely not a self-righteous man. I was therefore surprised hearing him proudly say “my patients prefer waiting to see me over seeing one of my colleagues [in the same program at the University of Elsewhere] at an earlier time point”.

I am not sure he meant to indicate that he was the superior provider than his colleagues. However, in our ensuing discussion I definitely got the impression that he sincerely felt that patients referred to him as an individual provider were “owned” by him, and not “just” individuals who seek medical services provided by his group or program.

Taking ownership of the issue(s) of patients and working engaged to resolve them is a good thing. I am, however, not sure whether or how my colleague’s literal interpretation of “ownership” is in the best interest of patients. Nevertheless, the attitude that patients belong to an individual provider seems to remain surprisingly wide spread in these times. The many reasons for this may include the fact that most individual physicians in our institutions are appointed to provide a service at, but are not employed by that institution – which tends to further a single fighter or solo practitioner mentality. I wonder if some male chauvinism my also play a role, as this attitude seems to me anecdotally more prevalent among men than women.

In any case, the attitude of patients belonging to a provider usually fails to optimally serve the patient and is definitely not compatible with equal access.  A patient wants to receive, in a timely manner, expert care for a specific medical issue by a professional qualified to provide that care. One would think that every faculty member of a given program is capable of providing the basic services the program is supposed to provide. If not, this needs to be remedied. If so, most patients would want to have access to the service as timely as possible, i.e. see the next available provider in the next available clinic time slot.

In order to accommodate this patient wish, a central review of all referrals with a transparent system of triaging according to urgency is required. I encourage our academic and program leadership  in the various programs in our Department to discuss such systems within their sections and to develop and implement such a system, or if there is already one in place, to periodically audit, review, and adapt it, if necessary.

 

Honours and Awards

The strength of any department lies in its’ members and their achievements and awards. Congratulations are extended to:

Dr. Yoav Keynan, Section of Infectious Diseases, who has been named this year’s recipient of the Manitoba Medical Service Foundation and St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre’s Richard Hoeschen Memorial Award.  The award consists of a $4,000 contribution to help offset the operating expenses for the supervision of a B.Sc. (Med) student at the University of Manitoba.

Dr. Ryan Skrabek, Section of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,  who received the 2017 Hy Dubo Educator of the Year Award in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Dr. Sepideh Pooyania, Section of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,  who has been invited to be a member of the Best Practice Recommendation Guidelines for Stroke Care, 2017-2018 Writing Group.

Dr. Jonathon Bellas, Section of General Internal Medicine,  who has been selected the recipient of the 2017 PA Educator Award by the Canadian Physician Assistant Education Association (CPAEA) and the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA).

We, Them and The System

As individuals, we may have different views of a particular problem and may pursue various (often vested) interests in trying to resolve it. And that’s OK. In fact, it is enriching and stimulating to bring all these different views to the table.    Solutions for complex problems found in an open, respectful exchange of diverging opinions – collaborative team solutions – are usually better than those initially proposed by each single individual involved.

That said, finding a solution requires commitment; first of all, the commitment to get involved and participate in the  collaborative process. It is worth stressing in this context that refusing to participate, when given the opportunity, is rarely a profitable solution. If one declines to participate, somebody else will substitute and argue on one’s behalf – and this runs the risk that that somebody will be less apt to the challenge than the one who has chosen to stay on the side line. Also, by standing off side in finding solutions, by forfeiting to bring one’s opinion to the table, one loses the legitimation to complain about the later outcome. This applies also to leadership positions one might be asked to take on…

Finding a solution for a complex problem requires further to keep in mind the greater good of which each of us is “only” a part. Finding a solution requires a   willingness to accept that no one can have everything he/she wants, that there needs to be a give and take from all parties involved, always keeping in mind the greater good we choose to aim to achieve together as a team, as a program, as Department, as an institution.

Why choose? Aren’t we rather forced to aim for what somebody “above us” decided, whether we like it or not? Who has not thought in more than one  instance that “those above” are incompetent, if not worse? “We” powerless sufferers – “them” having all the say.  Where is the choice here?

Well, didn’t we make the decision to work where we work? There are always alternatives.  We could move somewhere else, do something else – if we would choose to accept the  consequences. Could, that we don’t, indicate that we have at least deep down some  common ground, some common view of that greater good?

OK, but does our individual view, our opinion really count? If not by “them”, are we not just being pushed around and played with by “the system”? That’s not a valid excuse either. Who is “the system”? Is “the system” not made up of all of us? Let’s think of our Health Care System – if there is such a thing at all (see recommended reading). Now take away the people it (should) serve(s), then the people working in it. Would it still exist? I doubt it. There is no such thing as an abstract, amorphous system devoid of people. We, the sum of all individual people in it make “the system”, define what it is, how it looks like, how it works (or not), each of us in his/her own specific place.

Let’s continue to try hard to shape “the system” of our health care, each in his/her place, to find sustainable solutions for its many complex problems, each of us contributing his/her view, always respectful of other opinions, collaboratively, and always with that greater good in mind that we choose to work for: the benefit of our patients today and in the      future.

BTW: we don’t need to become altruistic saints, as this is of course also for our own benefit. We will all likely become patients at some point. Hopefully without being put in a situation forcing us to admit that we refuse to be the patient of a health care  system of which we are/were a member, to modify a famous Groucho Marx quote.

Recommend Reading:

Henry Mintzberg “Managing the Myths of Health Care” Berrett-Kohler Publisher, 2017. 

Henry Mintzberg is the Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University and the recipient of twenty honorary degrees from universities around the world

 

Young Investigator Grant Competition

The Young Investigator Grant Competition, sponsored by the Department of Internal Medicine, will be held on an annual basis to support research activities of junior faculty members (with less than 5 years since their initial appointment) within the Department of Internal Medicine.

The purpose of the grant is to allow a young investigator to generate preliminary results that will enable him/her to subsequently apply for an extramural grant, i.e. the Department’s Young Investigator grant is meant to serve as seed money for starting a research career.

Please see the Terms of Reference on our department wiki for details.

Should you have any questions, touch base with your Section Head or the Department’s Managing Director, Dale Gustafson.

NOTE:  Deadline for Submission is Jan 1, 2018 .