“What if” and “Why not”? Reflections on my 13 years as Royal College CEO
In this, my last message as Royal College CEO, I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks to you for your membership in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and for your dedication and expert contributions to the benefit of the health and welfare of Canadian patients, communities and populations.
The Royal College strives to transform your work into the standards, examinations and accreditation processes by which future members will be trained, certified and supported through careers marked by service, care and advancement of knowledge.
A difficult aspect of the retirement transition is clearing and moving the office, but it has given me time to think about the blessings of a career and calling in medicine at a time of tremendous progress, change and excitement. The hours have been long hours but never felt like work; they have always been exhilarating and enjoyable. Let me interject the obvious: I couldn’t have served or accomplished much without the support of my wife, Patricia, with whom I celebrated 50 years of marriage in October.
I should also add that this is not a complete retirement, but “rewirement,” as I have agreed to continue on in the role of president/ceo of Royal College International for a one-year term starting in January. I also look forward to continuing my Hematology practice in Windsor, N.S., where I enjoy running a small monthly clinic.
Royal College advances and looking ahead
I’ve always enjoyed challenge and change… I probably overused watch-words like “what if,” “why not,” and “when can we start.” But I have been coaching and supporting a terrific team of directors, managers and staff at the Royal College, who turn ideas and opportunities into programs, advances and results.
In these recent years
- We have worked with countless Fellows, residents and faculty postgraduate deans and residency program directors. Together, we have transformed postgraduate medical education and specialty residency training in “Competence by Design.”
- We strengthened health policy, advocacy and research at the Royal College, with emphasis on the health of Indigenous Peoples, medical workforce planning and vulnerable populations.
- We responded to invitations and opportunities to pursue international collaborations and outreach through conferences, alliances, consulting contracts in more than 30 counties around the globe. And, most recently, we added support for international aid and development projects.
- We have constantly endeavoured to improve member engagement, value of Fellowship and the relevance of the Royal College in the eyes of Fellows and stakeholders. The resources you have provided to the Royal College have been carefully looked after and put to good use for members and the Canadians whom we serve.
Our health system is precious to Canadians and generally praiseworthy. Core quality is strong but access is poor. Clearly, resources and capacity are inadequate to meet the needs and expectations of our patients and communities. Patient safety is being threatened and there are obvious, alarming and significant deficits in the well-being of Fellows and other clinicians, with evident distress and burnout.
We are preparing for an uncertain future, with hope for the health system, confidence in our abilities and high expectations for innovations in a digital future and the promises of “precision medicine.” However, I am confident that the Royal College and its partners in education, training, research and clinical service will continue to produce medical practitioners who are experts in health care and manifest compassion to their patients and support for their communities.
Extending my thanks to staff and my support team
The staff and I work as teams in the Royal College “village,” which is comprised of 300 highly motivated and dependable individuals with your interests at heart. We are dependent and grateful to thousands of Fellows who volunteer and work tirelessly on behalf of their Royal College, their faculties of medicine and their health centres and communities.
I want to thank my executive director team, the Royal College directors and managers for their support and patience. In particular, I want to recognize my administrative support: Ms. Danielle Ryan, in my office; Ms. Joanne Arsenault, in the Governance Unit; and Ms. Sandy Shearman, Director of Communications; without whom I would never have been prepared for meetings, trips or the daily schedule.
I am also pleased to introduce, once again, my successor: Susan Moffatt-Bruce, BSc, MD, PhD, MBA, MBOE, FACS, FRCSC. She comes to the Royal College with extraordinary experience and qualifications, and will provide the strong leadership and clear vision that the Royal College deserves.
Fifty years ago, I never would have imagined that I would have had the opportunity to work or hold appointments at the University of Toronto, McMaster University, the University of Calgary, King Faisal Research Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh, Queen’s University and the Kingston Regional Cancer Centre, Dalhousie University and Cancer Care Nova Scotia, and now in Ottawa at the Royal College. There are so many that I want to thank and recognize as mentors, supporters and collaborators — and I will do so personally — but I will highlight the extraordinary support I received from the Royal College Council members and the seven presidents with whom I have served:
- Ian Bowmer,
- Franҫoise P. Chagnon,
- Kevin Imrie,
- Cecil Rorabeck,
- Louis Francescutti,
- Bill Fitzgerald and
- Louise Samson.
All of these individuals have been sources of inspiration and assistance. Also, a special thanks to Mr. Bill Tholl, Dr. Francine Lemire, Dr. Cal Gutkin and Dr. John Ruedy.
To work in an organization as worthy and accomplished… with staff that are talented, dedicated and hardworking… for a membership that is expert, compassionate and devoted to the welfare of Canadian patients and populations, and willing to share their talents and insights around the world… this is — and has truly been — an honour and a privilege.
Best wishes, fond regards and farewell.