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FP turned TV host intends to tell "inspirational stories" about colleagues

Like most physicians, Dr. Aly Abdulla spends his days helping his patients. In his off hours, though, he has taken on a different job - he wants to make more patients aware of the things doctors are doing to improve health care.

He intends to do this via his new role as host of a MED Talks, a program that was launched recently on Rogers TV in Ottawa. In an interview, he said his reasons for getting involved are simple.

"Frankly, I am astounded at the inspirational work my colleagues are doing in Ottawa," says Abdulla, who practises family medicine in a collaborative clinic in nearby Manotick, Ont. "They are challenging the status quo, speaking out for those who have lost their voice, supporting those who are shunned or shut in.... I think my colleagues are the new rock stars, and I will share with viewers their stories, experiences and viewpoints."

Abdulla, who also serves as president of the Ottawa Academy of Medicine, said he has committed to producing seven episodes of the program, which will run throughout the spring and summer, and more may be produced if viewer response is positive.

"My hope is that it will provide a forum for viewers to discuss important topics related to their health care," he said.

Subjects covered in the initial programs range from students and medical school to social media and patient education, and preventive health care.

"Even with the shortage of general practitioners, why are medical schools so hard to get in to?" a Rogers press release asks. "Why are so many physicians burning out? How do you take care of a loved one with cancer? MED Talks is ready to answer these questions, and more."

Abdulla says one of his main goals is to publicize selfless work by physicians. For instance, although it is well known that Dr. Jeff Turnbull is chief of staff at the Ottawa Hospital and a past president of the CMA, many are not aware of the work he does in inner-city Ottawa to help the city's street people. "The basic goal is to show what fantastic things doctors are doing," Abdulla says. "However, I also want the guests to pass on their knowledge - doctors are very good at crystallizing their views in a way the public can understand.

The initial guests include Turnbull, child psychiatrist Dr. Gail Beck and Dr. Robert Cushman, Ottawa's former medical officer of health.

Abdulla said that if the program proves successful, it may move be rebroadcast on other Rogers stations throughout Canada. "It will all be based on viewers' response," he said.

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