March 15, 2018
first Chief Medical Officer message to you, I shared a bit of who I am and what values guide my work. Thank you for your responses – I greatly appreciate your comments, ideas and advice. Your messages demonstrate what I know to be true: Saskatchewan physicians want to be part of re-designing a health care system that works better for our patients, their families and our profession. I’ve always been proud of the passionate commitment physicians show their patients and the public, and it’s this commitment that is integral to a strong leadership structure.
We have learned that
high-performing health care systems consistently embed physicians as leaders at all levels of the organization, including at the unit, program and department level, as well as within the executive leadership team.
Saskatchewan Advisory Panel on Health System Structure recognized the importance of physician engagement in their
recommendations to the Minister of Health in January 2017. These recommendations spurred the creation of the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). The panel specifically spoke to the importance of strengthening the relationship between the SHA and Saskatchewan physicians when they wrote: “Ensure physicians play an active role in the planning, management and governance of the health system to achieve shared responsibility and accountability for health system performance.”
We can already see this recommendation in action within the provincial health authority. Two of the ten Saskatchewan Health Authority’s
board members are physicians. I am one of five physicians working collaboratively in a dyad relationship and we are full members of the SHA’s
Executive Leadership Team. This dyad leadership model pairs administrative leaders and physician leaders as equal partners in a shared decision-making relationship. This model currently exists within the executive leadership level. We have a long-term goal of embedding dyad leadership throughout the SHA to create a health care system with strong physician leadership that continuously improves by partnering with our patients and their families.
The recently announced Area Chiefs of Staff are also hard at work identifying opportunities to collaborate and standardize processes provincially, while providing local leadership for the betterment of our patients, communities and colleagues.
Elevating the roles and responsibilities of physicians is what excites me about the work and opportunities ahead. It’s also what keeps me up at night: What exactly is meant by shared responsibility and accountability? What supports, relationships and information do physicians need to succeed? How do we create a leadership development and succession plan?
Finding the answers to these questions will only be possible if we work together. We are each surrounded by physicians who are willing and able to offer a wealth of expertise, wisdom and experience as we continue transitioning into our new provincial health system.
I particularly want to acknowledge our esteemed colleagues who served us all as Senior Medical Officers (SMOs) with the former regional health authorities. It is because of their leadership, dedication and commitment that we have a solid foundation on which to build our new provincial system. As we evolve within this new integrated system, I am confident the exceptional care we already offer to patients and their families will only improve.
As always, I’m eager to hear from you – the experts. Please email any comments, questions or concerns you may have to me at
Dr. Susan Shaw
Chief Medical Officer