Jan. 20, 2023

Working for physicians: SMA 2022 year in review

The year 2022 was busy and challenging for physicians and for staff of the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA). The following is a summary of SMA activities for the year, grouped according to the four pillars of the SMA’s Strategic Plan:

Improve physician wellness

  • The SMA announced the appointment of Tracy Danylyshen-Laycock, PhD, as the SMA’s inaugural Director, Physician Wellness and Support Programs. The aim of the position is to continue supporting physicians in need of health services and support, provide timely and robust support for workplace related conflict and stressors, and develop robust action plans to address systemic biases that affect the profession. Within her portfolio is the Physician Health Program, Workplace Wellbeing and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Physician-led advocacy and advice support has and will continue to be a mainstay in this portfolio.
  • Nnamdi Ndubuka joined the SMA in September as its inaugural Physician Lead, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. This important role will be key in advocating for and advancing EDI topics and issues and facilitating diversity in the SMA. In 2023, Dr. Ndubuka focus on developing a member complaint process/pathway and further EDI education events.
  • 2022 Fall RA
    Brenda Senger, Director, Physician Support Programs, speaks at the 2022 Fall Representative Assembly
    A new Clinical Coordinator in the Physician Health Program (PHP) was added to the Saskatoon office to complement the Clinical Coordinator who is based out of the SMA’s Regina office.
  • The SMA advanced exciting initiatives in the Physician Wellness space thanks to support from Scotiabank, in partnership with the Canadian Medical Association and MD Financial Management. Funding via the Physician Wellness+ Initiative has been targeted to address the urgent and ongoing health and wellness needs of physicians and medical learners. Initiatives included:
    • Providing medical learner nutrition
    • Building EDI awareness and understanding within the profession and collaborative research with other medical associations around gender equity
    • Creation of a physician information and education website
  • The SMA, in collaboration with the Division of Social Accountability, College of Medicine, offered four learning sessions on EDI issues delivered by Dr. Manuela Valle-Castro, Director of the Division of Social Accountability.

Deliver exceptional member-based service

  • The SMA recruited for the position of Chair of its Negotiations Committee and will seek members interested in joining the committee, which will play an instrumental role in negotiations preparations for the next Medical Compensation Review Committee agreement, which expired on March 31, 2022.
  • Two SMA departments were amalgamated under the leadership of Mark Ceaser, Director, Economics, Clinical Informatics and Research. Several initiatives were undertaken by department staff, including:
    • 2022 fall RA
      Drs. Kirsty Sanderson and Annette Epp during a session on primary care compensation at the 2022 Fall Representative Assembly
      Ongoing work by the conjoint SMA/Ministry/SHA Primary Care Compensation Working Group to draft recommendations for improved compensation models for family physicians that aligns with the Patient’s Medical Home and Connected Care Strategy, and fosters a primary health care system in Saskatchewan where patients and providers thrive.
    • Successful onboarding for the Section of Internal Medicine Payment Schedule Modernization Working Group.
    • Successful launch of the Critical Condition Good Faith payment policy.
    • Ongoing partnership with eHealth Saskatchewan to update CMD-QIP flow sheets and improve CDM-QIP indicator reporting and payment reconciliation.
    • Ongoing investment in quality improvement partnerships with Health Quality Council such as Physician Panel Reports, Clinical Quality Improvement Program (CQIP), and piloting a new QI in Clinics program.
  • In July, Reché McKeague, K.C., joined the SMA as its first in-house legal counsel. In her role, she will advise the SMA in areas such as administrative, employment and privacy law.
  • A new SMA website was launched that provides an improved online experience for SMA members and the public.
  • The SMA will develop a new members’ portal that will fundamentally enhance the way the SMA conducts its business, and the way members interact with the SMA.
  • The SMA advocated on behalf of physicians during the pandemic in 2022. The SMA, in conjunction with the Saskatchewan College of Family Physicians, advocated for children’s vaccinations. Individual physicians supported that campaign and were featured in social media posts. In February 2022, SMA president Dr. Eben Strydom expressed disappointment with the removal of some public health measures. He also said COVID-19 case data did not support the lifting of proof of vaccination and negative test requirements. Other SMA pandemic-related initiatives included:
    • Negotiation of the Personal Protective Equipment Benefit Program.
    • Advocacy for improved access to rapid antigen test kits from the SHA for clinic employees and for in-clinic testing of patients.
    • Preparation of printable posters for physician clinics where masking was required inside the clinic.
    • Development of a legal opinion on the obligations of physicians toward their employees and their patients after public health orders were removed in February 2022.
    • Consultations with physicians through the SMA COVID-19 Member Check-in survey in February, which drew 400 responses.
2022 fall RA
A delegate listens during the 2022 Fall Representative Assembly

Strengthen relationships

  • Through work on various committees, SMA leaders continued to advocate actively for members on issues associated with SHA Bylaws and related SHA policies that affect physicians.
  • The 2022 Fall Representative Assembly was held in-person for the first time in three years, with ore than 120 physicians in attendance. Dr. Briane Scharfstein, External Consultant, made a presentation on behalf of the Special Committee on SMA Governance. Structural and procedural recommendations were approved by RA delegates. Work will begin on implementing the recommendations via a re-constituted Legislation and Policy Committee. The RA also learned more about the exciting expansions to the Physician Wellness and Support Program.
  • Meet and greet
    SMA president Dr. John Gjevre meets with physicians in Canora in August 2022
    The 2022 President and Vice-President’s Tour kicked off Sept. 13 with meetings held in a hybrid format giving physicians the option of attending in-person or virtually. Earlier in the summer, SMA president Dr. John Gjevre embarked on a number of meet-and-greet road trips where he listened to physicians’ concerns.
  • The Coaching and Mentorship Program for Saskatchewan Physicians (CoMPAS) was established to create and support professional connections and relationships among physician peers. This program is focused on new physicians in Saskatchewan who are in their first five years of practice. The five-year, $1.7-million program was developed by the College of Medicine’s Division of Continuing Medical Education and is jointly funded by the SMA and the Ministry of Health.

Grow effective physician leaders

  • Elections were held in early 2022 for positions in the 12 newly formed Medical Staff Associations (MSA). MSA members also elected RA delegates through an online vote.
  • The SMA continued to offer subsidized Physician Leadership Institute courses in 2022. A number of SMA Section leaders participated in these courses to deepen their leadership capability given their important roles in the SMA. A PLI course was also offered to MSA physician leaders.
  • Pieter Maree of Hudson Bay announced as 2022 Physician of the Year at the 2022 Fall Representative Assembly. Leadership awards were presented to Dr. Justina Koshinsky (Physician Leader), Dr. Ingrid Tam (Resident Leader), and Elecktra Laxdal (Student Leader).
  • The SMA’s Legislation and Policy Committee was recently re-constituted. Dr. George Carson chairs the committee, with Drs. Brian Geller, Cecil Hammond, Susan Hayton, Jay Kalra, and Sergey Kens, and SMA legal counsel Reché McKeague, K.C., as members.

President’s Letters by Dr. John Gjevre (June-December) and Dr. Eben Strydom (January-April)

  • Dec. 21, 2022: Best wishes for the holiday season
  • Nov. 2, 2022: SMA advocates for measures to stabilize primary care
  • Oct. 24, 2022: Primary care reform takes centre stage at RA
  • Aug. 11, 2022: Engaging with members and the 2022 President and Vice-President’s Tour schedule
  • July 28, 2022: SMA maintains support for strong, publicly funded health care system
  • June 30, 2022: Discontinuation of COVID-19 Benefits via Accumulated Program Funding
  • June 13, 2022: SHA reappointment process: What you need to know and what we need from you
  • April 26, 2022: Results of 2022 Member Check-In Survey
  • March 23, 2022: Update on the Special Committee on SMA Governance; increases to PPE benefit; SMA survey of physicians; virtual 2022 Spring RA and AGM
  • Feb. 22, 2022: Closure of SHA Assessment and Treatment Centres; removal of public health orders; SMA survey
  • Jan. 7, 2022: Issues related to Omicron variant

Advocacy/news releases

  • Dec. 7, 2022: National, provincial, territorial medical organizations urge governments to collaborate to fix healthy system crisis
  • Nov. 15, 2022: Fundamental change needed to sustain health care, delegates told at 2022 Fall Representative Assembly
  • Oct. 26, 2022: Physicians accept 36-hour challenge living on Saskatoon streets
  • Sept. 29, 2022: SMA observes Sept. 30 – National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
  • Sept. 27, 2022: Town Hall on SMA Governance Review planned for Oct. 18, 2022
  • Aug. 18, 2022: Fall online learning series to deepen understanding of EDI issues in medicine
  • March 23, 2022: SMA welcomes support for physicians in provincial budget
  • March 9, 2022: SMA encourages physician participation in virtual care consultation
  • Feb. 7, 2022: Op-ed: Living with COVID: We all must do our part
  • Feb. 4, 2022: Newspaper ads urge vaccinations
  • Feb. 1, 2022: Saskatchewan’s physicians express alarm over premier’s letter

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