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Strengthening resilience in medical training and practice

The final strategic session at the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) annual meeting examined ways to improve the health of physicians and physicians-in-training, with a special focus on resiliency and being able to “bounce back” from difficult situations.

“Physician health has emerged as a growing priority for the CMA,” said Dr. Cindy Forbes, CMA Past President. “Although important strides have been made, a growing body of literature reminds us that serious personal and professional barriers to ensuring physician health remain.”

In particular, participants heard how resilience reflects an individual’s capacity to respond to setbacks in a healthy and adaptive manner, and persist in the face of obstacles. Resilient individuals are able to not only bounce back, but also further refine behaviors, thoughts and actions.

The session was led by a medical student, resident doctor and an early-career physician. Ms. Marie-Pier Bastrash is a final year medical student at McGill University planning to train to be an obstetrician and gynecologist. She is also Vice President, Student Affairs for the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS), and past chair of the CFMS Wellness Committee.

Dr. Jonathan Dean — a PGY-3 Internal Medicine resident at the University of Saskatchewan, a Resident Doctors of Canada (RDoC) board member representing Saskatchewan and co-chair of the RDoC Wellness Committee — provided the resident perspective.

The panel was rounded out with the perspective of early-career physician Dr. Tracy Scott, assistant program director in the general surgery residency program at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital.

The need for greater understanding among physicians and physicians-in-training about resiliency was a key focus of the session as well as how it can be compromised by both internal and external factors.

The CMA Board of Directors approved a new, multi-year strategy to refresh and redefine a vision for physician health last winter. Since then, the association has worked on several major activities:

  • development of a new CMA policy on physician health;
  • development of a new National Physician Health Survey;
  • continuing planning for hosting national and international physician health conferences; and
  • ongoing collaboration with provincial physician health programs via the Forum of Canadian Physician Health Programs.

Discussions during General Council will be used to direct future CMA work in the field of physician health.

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