Chair's Message: Consulting the Magic 8 Ball (December 2022)
Friends recently gave me a “magic 8 ball” as a humorous gift. It would be great to see into the future to know what 2023 will bring for family medicine, the next phase of the pandemic and the communities we serve. But when I asked, it just told me “Concentrate and Ask Again!”
This year was replete with wonderful opportunities for reconnection. Nothing can replace the sense of collegiality that comes from seeing colleagues at an in-person meeting or celebration. But the year has also been incredibly challenging for all of us. I think back to this time last year when we were all asked to “dig deep” and support the vaccination booster campaign leading into the holiday season. Twelve months later our health system is overwhelmed by a surge in respiratory illnesses while still dealing with the fallout of deferred tests and procedures, retirements, and labyrinthine processes for getting patients the care they need.
All of this occurs against a backdrop of reckoning with painful truths about ongoing antisemitism, racism and mistreatment of learners and colleagues in our midst. As we strive to be leaders in social accountability, we must be clear and fearless in support of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine’s denouncement of all forms of hate and discrimination, and in particular its acknowledgment of the present-day experiences of antisemitism endured by Jewish colleagues that continue to come to light. To anyone who is dealing with the pain of these hurtful experiences, the leadership of DFCM is here to listen and support you in any way we can.
Our patients and communities need the leadership of family medicine now more than ever. Last month, DFCM tabled our response to that need in the form of our new strategic plan, which articulates our commitments, priorities, and values through the lenses of community, relationships and leadership. It is my sincere hope that you see yourself reflected in the plan because we need the energy and creativity of the entire DFCM community to implement it. If you have an idea to advance one of the strategic priorities or are already involved in work that is doing so, then we would love to hear from you! Please reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also help us with the plan by spreading the word: we have created a PPT slide deck for your next presentation, a Zoom background for meetings and virtual events, and social media cards—all of which can be found here.
One way we are advancing the strategic priority of leading and informing health system improvement by working with local and international partners is through the Office of Health System Partnership (OHSP). In 2022, DFCM launched the OHSP as one way for faculty, learners and global partners to become more engaged in health system leadership. The aim of the OHSP is to advance high-quality primary health care at the system level across local communities and beyond, bringing our expertise in academic family medicine and primary care to drive systems able to respond to the needs of individuals and communities.
Locally, the OHSP has partnered with Ontario Health-Toronto Region to provide primary care leadership to urgent issues like COVID-19 recovery, primary care attachment and engagement. The OHSP team includes a scientific lead as well as leads in family medicine health human resources, digital health, attachment and engagement (learn more about the team here). I’m thrilled to announce that building on decades of advances in global health work within DFCM, we will strengthen our efforts in support of primary health care for universal health coverage through the ongoing leadership of Dr. Katherine Rouleau. Katherine has taken on the role of Global Primary Health Care Lead in the OHSP. During her amazing 10-year tenure as Vice-Chair, Global Health and Social Accountability, Katherine built an extraordinary team and portfolio of work. We look forward to continued growth in global primary health care capacity-building and partnerships under her leadership. Katherine will also continue in her role as Director, WHO Collaborating Centre on Family Medicine and Primary Care. The global work of the OHSP must be defined and opportunities built to engage DFCM faculty, learners and international partners in health system improvement, capacity-building and bidirectional learning for primary health care around the world. Through collaboration with the WHO and beyond, Katherine will develop a global program for health system strengthening for DFCM, engaging and supporting a team of faculty members, trainees and international partners to address common health system challenges and drive towards excellent primary care for all.
This is our moment. Equitable access to high-quality primary care is critical to building a high-performing health system and pandemic recovery. I look forward to partnering with you and building on our connections in the community in this work. Will we succeed in our push for “Outstanding primary care for all, powered by world-leading research, education, and innovation?” Concentrate. And ask again in 2023! 😊
As the year winds down, I hope you enjoy some much-needed rest and time with loved ones. I wish you and yours a joyful holiday full of renewal.
All the best for a happy and healthy season.