Melfort family physician Dr. Eben Strydom elected SMA president
Dr. Eben Strydom, a family physician from Melfort, was elected president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) on Friday, May 7, during the 2021 Spring Representative Assembly (RA), which was held virtually.
Dr. Strydom becomes the 55th president of the SMA. He succeeds Dr. Barb Konstantynowicz, a Regina family physician.
“The continuing challenges of COVID-19 pandemic are top of mind for myself and for physicians. One of my main priorities will be to continue the advocacy work of the SMA for physicians during these unprecedented times,” said Dr. Strydom, who was elected to a one-year term.
“Although more people are becoming vaccinated, the pandemic threatens to strain the health-care system to its limits,” he said. “Physicians and health-care workers need resources and supports in place to enable them to do their jobs, for their own safety, the safety of their staff and patients, and the viability of the health system. We can’t let our guard down now. Hopefully by the end of my term the province is in a new place, with a resumption of more normal activities. We all want that. I do too.”
As a family physician in Melfort, Dr. Strydom said rural medicine is one of his priorities. Vulnerabilities in rural health care have been magnified by the pandemic, he said. Every region is different, but they all require a sufficient cohort of physicians to cover clinical work, maintain an ER and have a reasonable call schedule so that they don’t burn out.
“Access to a family physician is a huge concern for residents of rural Saskatchewan,” he said. “Recruiting and retaining physicians to rural communities is an issue across Canada, but the provincial government could make rural practice more attractive through compensation and support services. Our country doctors don’t have to feel isolated or abandoned.”
Born and raised in rural South West Africa, now Namibia, Dr. Strydom was exposed to rural health care in his sparsely populated home country. He graduated in medicine from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in 1997, and for five years worked in Paarl Hospital, in South Africa. During this time, he trained as a generalist, and obtained post graduate diplomas in anesthesiology and obstetrics.
He did short international locums in anesthesiology and family practice and after a two-month winter locum in Redvers, he looked at opportunities for generalist practice in Saskatchewan. He moved to Melfort in June 2003 and provides full-service family practice, including obstetrics, anesthesia, surgery, and palliative care services. Early on in his career in Saskatchewan, he was introduced to the SMA by local colleagues.
“In a short time, I realized the important role the organization played in advocacy for physicians and service delivery,” he said.
He has served on the Kelsey Trail Regional Medical Association for 16 years, and on the SMA’s Board of Directors, the Section of Family Practice, and the Intersectional Council. He was elected as the SMA’s Honorary Treasurer in 2019-20 and as Vice-President in 2020-21.
The SMA’s spring Representative Assembly is usually held in-person, but was conducted virtually this year, as were the 2020 Spring RA and the 2020 Fall RA.
The Saskatchewan Medical Association (www.sma.sk.ca) is a voluntary, member-based, professional association for physicians, medical students and residents in the province and it is the provincial chapter of the Canadian Medical Association. As the trusted voice of Saskatchewan’s 2,400 practising physicians, the SMA negotiates for and on behalf of our doctors; supports the educational, professional, economic and personal well-being of physicians; and advocates for a high-quality and patient-centred health care system.
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