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SMA appoints director of physician advocacy and leadership

A Saskatoon family physician with a leadership background and experience in health informatics will be an advocate for doctors in the province.

The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) recently appointed Dr. Keith Clark as director of physician advocacy and leadership for the SMA. His appointment is on a part-time basis and Dr. Clark will begin this role on September 3, 2019.

“I felt the SMA does great work on behalf of physicians,” he said when asked what drew him to the role. “I have benefited from that work in a multitude of ways in the past, and wanted to contribute to that kind of support for my colleagues.”

Dr. Clark studied at the University of Saskatchewan, and has worked as a family practice physician, since 1991, in a variety of settings from emergency room to academic family medicine and community-based family medicine. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Clark is an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan, and was chief medical informatics officer at the Saskatoon Health Region, as well as a physician peer leader in the SMA's EMR Program.

Dr. Clark is not entirely new to the SMA, having worked in the Saskatoon Regional Medical Association, and as a delegate at the Representative Assembly (RA), a forum that gave him insights into his professional association, something that probably spurred him to eventually find his way to the role he has landed at the SMA. “By becoming more directly involved as a delegate, I became more familiar with the workings behind the scenes of the SMA,” he explained. “When the position was advertised a few years back, I was intrigued, but didn't act on it. Now, after exploring a few other avenues of professional growth, I saw that the position was open again so I applied.”

Dr. Clark feels his experience will be useful in this non-clinical context. “I’ve worked as a physician for more than 30 years, and I see this is as a path to stay engaged with my profession in a different manner. I see it as good way to apply my experience with different challenges, for the benefit of my colleagues.”

He is aware of many issues facing the profession, but a few stand out. “Of course burnout continues to be a discussion within our profession,” he said. “There are definitely areas where we need to find solutions to the pressures brought about by things like excessive paperwork and additional administrative tasks. These are areas I think I can advocate for physicians, and which will help them lead more productive practices, and healthier lives. With the SMA’s help, I will proactively advocate on these challenges.”

And while some technologies have come along to alleviate the stress and strain of medical practice, he feels more work still needs to be done. “I think the advent of EMRs brought benefits, but also increased workloads,” he said. “Getting the most out of EMRs and moving beyond their basic use will help patients and physicians,” Dr. Clark noted. “I worked with improving electronic medical record keeping within the Saskatoon Health Region, and I think that experience will be valuable.”

Dr. Clark is keen to help physicians and his profession. “I am looking forward to taking on the role. I have a lot of respect for the SMA, and am pleased to be able to contribute to its success. My emphasis will always be my colleagues and on the profession.”

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