November 15, 2018
I’ve been working clinically this week, reconnecting with my ICU team, caring for patients at the bedside, and trying to create better outcomes and experiences for our patients and their families.
On Sunday afternoon, there was a pause in the action, giving me the chance to sit down and have coffee with a long-time friend and colleague. We talked about our kids, our mutual friends, and of course, our shared love of medicine. Like many of you, he asked me how my Chief Medical Officer (CMO) job is going.
I’ve noticed over the past few months that I’ve become more certain of a few things when I answer this question: this is a big job that can at times be overwhelming, we all need to prioritize and pace ourselves, and this position is the most exciting one I’ve ever had.
I’m seeing signs that what we hope to achieve is not only possible, it’s actually starting to happen.
Prince Albert, an impressively committed community of doctors are debating how best to re-design the delivery of health care. From what I heard a couple of weeks ago in Prince Albert, our doctors are ready and willing to help us all prepare for the generations to come.
Last weekend, I also attended the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) Representative Assembly, where I again experienced the same enthusiasm for health care in Saskatchewan. At the assembly, about 100 doctors dedicated two days to discuss issues that matter with the SMA Board. In an open Question and Answer session with our Ministers of Health, doctors advocated for improved health care for our patients and communities, quality assurance and quality improvement, appropriateness of care, and a health information system that supports ever-improving care with relative ease – all improvements that are supported by our SMA colleagues.
Dr. Verna Yui, CEO of Alberta Health Services (AHS), was also in attendance at the assembly to share both successes and lessons learned from Alberta’s health care system amalgamation. As I listened to Dr. Yui highlight some of AHS’s priorities over the past ten years, including a single set of practitioner bylaws, physicians as dyad leaders, and the importance of patients and families as partners, I was reassured that we are on the right path to get where we want to be as a single provincial health authority.
One of the most encouraging things I’ve recently heard from health care staff in our province is that artificial boundaries are starting to come down. I hear positive comments from staff on a regular basis that it’s easier today than it was a year ago to coordinate care and collaborate across the SHA.
That said I also know there’s still uncertainty about what happens next. No one person has all the answers but I’m increasingly confident we are on the right path. What matters most is that we all want and strive for the same things: better care for our patients, a workplace that is supportive and fun, and a health care system that makes it easy to create the best possible outcomes and experiences for our patients and colleagues.
What have you seen that makes you confident we’re on the right path? What can we improve as we approach our first-year anniversary as a provincial health care system?
Please let me know at
Dr. Susan Shaw
Chief Medical Officer