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New President, same goal: doctors want a voice in health-care decisions

Last week I became the President of the Medical Society of Prince Edward Island, taking the reins from Past-President, Dr. Kris Saunders, who capably led the organization last year. While our leadership has changed, our drive and commitment to improving patient care have not.

I return to this role, after serving as President for a three-year term in 2012.  Since then, I’ve been proud to watch and help the Medical Society grow and evolve.

Much of our organization’s growth has been behind the scenes. We strengthened how we make decisions – seeking to make more evidence-based decisions whenever possible. We have grown our leadership skills so we can be more effective in leading change; I was one of 25 physicians who participated in a Master’s Certificate in Physician Leadership last year. We have thought long and hard about what our patients need most. Part of that work included releasing our first public health policy statement in April, Doctors’ Prescription for Improving PEI’s Health-care system (to learn more about that visit I sat on the task force that created those recommendations.

While doing this work, we were reminded time and time again how much we the doctors drive the activity of the health-care system. We are often at the first point of contact for patients; we order tests, make referrals, discharge patients from hospitals and write prescriptions. Our practice styles can promote collaboration and innovation, or not.  Are we doing what we believe to be best for our patients every day?  We are. Could we do better? Absolutely, with support.

It is that perspective that has us asking, or should I be so bold to say insisting, for a place at decision-making tables. By that I mean we want to help identify problems, be more informed by data and evidence (PEI data is sometimes only available to Health PEI and government) and help create solutions that result in better care for our patients.  And, if given the opportunity to fulfill this role we also pledge to share the responsibility of being accountable for our health-care system.

What drives our desire to do this? Patients, fortunate enough to have a doctor, are still waiting too long to be seen by both family doctors and specialists. Health-care costs continue to rise, yet I question if Islanders see increased value in their health-care experiences with those investments. We also need to strike a better balance between treating the ill and preventing the illness.

While it is my job to represent doctors, I also know that we don’t have all the answers. Government, Health PEI and our health colleagues such as nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and many more also have expertise, perspectives and experiences to lend.

Like my predecessor, Dr. Kris Saunders, I am confident we can lead the nation in delivering quality and accessible care. Our province’s small size makes this goal obtainable. Who will join us?


By: Dr. David Bannon
President, Medical Society of Prince Edward Island