March 1, 2018
One thing that has stuck with me from my anesthesiology residency is something Dr. David Johnson, one of my teachers, told me: The way we care for patients individually and collectively is not mutually exclusive. We can be good at taking care of patients one-on-one and good at caring for many at once by learning the science and skills of quality improvement.
As your new Chief Medical Officer, I aim to live these wise words. Together I know we can create better care and experiences for our patients while also increasing the joy we receive from our practice of medicine. These are two lofty goals, but I’m confident we will be successful as we work to make our health care system safer and better every day.
I became Chief Medical Officer on December 4, 2017 when the Saskatchewan Health Authority officially launched. So far, I’m on a steep and exciting learning curve that has made me certain there are many possibilities, and a lot of hard work, ahead. Thanks to everyone who has sent me well wishes these past few weeks and welcomed me into my new role.
While I have worked with many talented physicians over my years of training and my 17 years of practice in Saskatchewan, I have yet to meet many of you. For those of you who don’t know me, I’d like to take a moment to tell you more about myself.
My family and I moved to Regina from England when I was nine years old. I considered many careers before discovering I wanted to become a doctor. I completed pre-med at the University of Regina followed by medical school at the University of Saskatchewan, where I also completed my training in anesthesiology.
Soon after finishing my residency, my husband, infant daughter and I moved to Palo Alto, California, where I completed fellowship training in Critical Care Medicine at Stanford University Medical Center. Training and living in the United States made me extremely grateful for the high quality training I received in Saskatchewan and really made me appreciate the values embedded in our Canadian medical system.
I returned home to Saskatoon to start my practice and to accept an academic position at the University of Saskatchewan. I recently paused my anesthesiology work but continue to practice in the Intensive Care Units at St. Paul’s and Royal University Hospitals. I love the challenges and rewards of clinical care. My husband and I now have two teenage children, and we all love our busy and happy life in the heart of Saskatoon.
Prior to becoming the Chief Medical Officer, I held a variety of leadership roles, including: Medical Director of Royal University Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, Department Head for Adult Critical Care with the former Saskatoon Health Region, Physician Co-lead for the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative, Co-lead for the former Saskatoon Health Region’s Safety Initiative, and Director of Physician Advocacy and Leadership with the Saskatchewan Medical Association. I am currently the Board Chair for the Health Quality Council.
Each leadership role has taught me valuable skills and has provided me with unique and challenging experiences I never imagined possible when I started medical school.
In my new role as Chief Medical Officer, I am committed to you, my physician colleagues, and to the patients we serve every day in our province. Over the next weeks and months, you can expect to hear from me regularly as we continue working together to transition into our new provincial health system.
I also want to hear from you – what do you appreciate about our new provincial system, what concerns you, what can we do to improve and how can we better communicate with one another. Send your comments, questions and concerns my way at
Finally, I encourage you to learn more about our physician colleagues who are accepting leadership positions in the new health authority, including the Area Chiefs of Staff who were welcomed into their new roles last week. For those of you who are interested in applying, a
Senior Medical Health Officer position has been posted for competition on
I look forward to hearing from you and getting to know more of you as we work together. Our collective success will require all of us to listen to and learn from each other.
Dr. Susan Shaw
Chief Medical Officer