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CMA president hears student, resident concerns in Manitoba

Canadian Medical Association President Cindy Forbes met informally with the leaders of Manitoba’s resident and medical student organizations recently for a wide-ranging discussion on how the association could better meet their needs.

The meeting was the first in a series that Forbes plans to hold across Canada to gain a better understanding of the issues facing physicians in training.

“The CMA is committed to involving younger physicians and trainees to a greater degree in the work of the association and this meeting was an excellent opportunity to listen to how we could do this most effectively,” Forbes said.

During the three-hour dinner meeting, Forbes heard representatives of the Professional Association of Residents and Interns of Manitoba and the Manitoba Medical Students Association touch on a number of issues ranging from the lack of proper career counselling while in medical school to the uncertainty about being able to find a career in the specialty of their choice.

“I assumed that if I trained and did my residency there would be a job at the end of it. That’s not the case anymore,” said one Manitoba resident.

Others talked about the lack of national planning in matching postgraduate residency positions with societal needs – a topic that was profiled in a special session at the CMA’s annual General Council meeting in August.

“Part of the solution is to be honest. Let us know what our employability prospects are,” said one Manitoba student while another noted “there are really interesting practice opportunities out there.”

“What is it going to be like five years from now?” another student asked.

While some provinces have physician resource plans, many do not, Forbes said and she agreed that more national planning is required with the involvement of the profession, medical schools and government.

“We know we need doctors and the politicians to think about this,” she said, noting the existence of the Physician Resource Planning Task Force and its work to provide the sort of long-term, national oversight that is required.

Forbes also said the CMA itself may be able to do more to keep residents and students informed about the physician resource landscape and help provide resources to help them better plan their careers.

The residents at the meeting also talked about the value of establishing a mentorship program whereby prospective physicians could be matched with those who are nearing retirement.

Following the meeting, the student and resident representatives expressed their appreciation for the chance to have such an in-depth discussion with Forbes, with one describing the exchange as “awesome”.

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