To a great new year

by Colin Leslie on December 16, 2014

One of the gifts of being a journalist is that you get to attend a range of events for the people you write about. I have two observations I didn’t get a chance to make earlier in the year.
First, physician organizations are clearly struggling with how—and how much—to keep members focused on the organizations’ strategic plans.

At the Canadian Medical Association’s annual meeting this summer, the board announced it’s considering making delegate motions at General Council advisory to the board, rather than binding.

A month later, I was at the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) annual meeting in Kingston, Ont., where the most extensive debate was over a position paper opposing the “criminalization” of HIV infection. The position paper passed narrowly in the end, but I found it interesting when CFMS president Bryce Durafourt said he opposed the motion because the issue was outside the scope of the CFMS and unrelated to the group’s strategic plan.

The challenge your organizations face seems to be in allowing a forum for the (often more) lively discussions that come out of the grassroots (and from individual doctors) while still focusing on core strategic directions. So a forum—but still with some punch. There have to be stakes here. Like maybe one pillar—say one-fifth—of your organization’s goals for the year come out of a “wild card” new initiative from the grassroots.

Second, I was struck this year by how often you elect reformers to high positions in your medical associations. At the Doctors of BC (formerly the BCMA) annual meeting in June, Dr. Charles Webb was elected president-elect of the group. Dr. Webb originally rose to prominence as the co-founder of B.C. Doctors for a Democratic Future, an organization of reformers concerned about how the association was being led.

We’ve seen this pattern before: Dr. Suzanne Strasberg and Dr. John Tracey were both once board members with the Coalition of Family Physicians of Ontario, which served as a watchdog group on the Ontario Medical Association (the coalition has changed its name to DoctorsOntario). Dr. Strasberg went on to be an OMA president and was just appointed chair of MD Physician Services. Dr. Tracey went on to serve on both the OMA and CMA boards.

To a great new year—of medical politics and more! MP

Follow Colin Leslie on Twitter at @MedicalPost

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