A Tour to Meet with You
Interview with Isabelle Samson, Vice-President of the QMA's Board of Directors
The QMA, which brings together close to 11,000 members, is the only professional association that gives a voice to the entire medical profession. At the request of its Board of Directors and with an ad hoc committee, Vice-president Dr. Isabelle Samson set up a training and consultation tour on professionalism. At the QMA, because of the work we have done since 2013, we firmly believe that medical professionalism is THE solution to the crisis that the medical profession is experiencing.
Why did the QMA organize this Tour?
Dr. Samson: The QMA has been working on the issue of professionalism for several years now. In 2015, we produced a brief, conducted an extensive survey and organized a convention on the theme of the social contract. We’re currently experiencing a pivotal moment as a profession, because we’re in a context where the relationship between the population and physicians is shifting. The QMA wanted to consult with the physicians and continue the discussion with them. The goal is to come up with a picture of their perception of professionalism and to discuss their ideas with them so that the profession has a successful future.
Why is it important to consult Québec physicians on professionalism?
Dr. Samson: It’s essential to seek out the experiences of physicians in the field to learn more about the challenges they face, but also to better understand their strengths. In many regions, physicians or physician groups use their leadership to get things moving. We know that the potential for medical leadership is very big and by going out to meet with physicians, the QMA wants to learn more about the solutions and experiences elsewhere to be able to gather and use this information to help advance professionalism on a larger scale. The Tour also allows us to determine in which direction physicians are asking the QMA to go.
Why is it urgent to act?
Dr. Samson: In the current context, physicians must get involved and show their professional leadership. Over the past few years, the medical profession has regularly been taken to task by the media, in particular because of the difficulties in accessing services in the health care system. If we want to maintain our autonomy and put an end to the spate of government interventions we are facing, as a profession we have to show leadership and professionalism.
How can professionalism help to improve the health care system?
Dr. Samson: Through clinical governance. Our profession must promote leadership so that we can have better clinical governance at all levels in the health care system. Clinical governance is inevitable. It’s what ensures that decisions are more consistent with the needs of patients and caregivers, but also that there is real co-management between the different decision-making levels. And the local level cannot be overlooked either, where the leadership of each physician is one of the keys to improving services and practices. Ultimately, it is the leaders as a whole who will make it possible to better respond to the needs of the population by encouraging professionalism at all levels.
What do physicians have to gain by focusing on professionalism on a daily basis?
Dr. Samson: If the trust between the public and the medical profession is broken, the end result will have a detrimental effect on the direct relationship between physicians and their patients. Trust is essential for the practice of medicine, but over the past few years, this trust has been eroded. In 2003, 70% of Canadians felt that physicians were trustworthy. In 2013, only 46% felt the same. This is a drop of 24% in 10 years. For the moment, this doesn’t seem to affect the bond of trust directly between physicians and their patients, but it is urgent to act to restore the trust.
Why should physicians participate in the Tour?
Dr. Samson: At the sessions I led, many physicians told me that they had never had a chance to talk about the issues this way, whether it was during their studies or after. In our environments, when we take the time to sit down to discuss and reflect on things, it’s about clinical matters, not organizational ones. With this Tour, physicians can reflect on how to better take their place, and how to be better organized amongst themselves. All of this is part of professionalism and it’s essential to have these discussions in the current context if we don’t want others to decide for us. Finally, it is really a rewarding experience both for the participants and the association.