SMA tour hears doctors’ concerns

What are the issues facing doctors in the province? The Saskatchewan Medical Association’s (SMA) President’s Tour sees the organization going across the province to meet with doctors and see what their issues are and discuss how they can address them.

Dr. Barb Konstantynowicz, SMA Vice-President, was in Yorkton at Manos for the local stop in the tour. The goal of the tour is to connect with doctors, to ensure that doctors have the chance to tell the SMA what their issues connect to the larger organization.

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One major concern for doctors is bylaws, stemming from the move to a single health authority. The main question is the rules for how physicians can operate in different areas. When there were multiple regions, Konstantynowicz explained, physicians would have to ask for privileges in another region in order to work there. Right now, they don’t know how that will unfold.

“If a surgeon has privileges in P.A. or Yorkton, does that mean they would also have privileges somewhere else, how does that all unfold?”

Another big issue for physicians is wellness. While often associated with ‘burnout’, keeping physicians well in the province is a goal of the SMA. Konstantynowicz adds that another part of the burnout issue is doctors working without feeling they have a say in what is happening in the system, and the SMA wants to give doctors a voice to allow them to improve the system around them.

“Physicians are really looking for an opportunity to help the system improve. We’re growing many leaders.”

Other concerns for doctors are very similar to the concerns their patients will have, said Konstantynowicz. Doctors are worried about patient access to specialty care and mental health providers, they’re concerned about having enough family doctors, and they’re concerned what will happen as doctors age and retire. A real concern is patients with chronic conditions. She notes that without someone guiding, supporting, encouraging, and monitoring, people with chronic conditions can fall through the cracks, and physicians don’t want to see that happen.

“We worry about human resources, and being able to be there for the people of Saskatchewan. It’s our communities. Having been born and raised in Saskatchewan, this is my home, I want to make sure what we do allows it to be sustained,” Konstantynowicz said.

The tour has been the source of good discussions with doctors in local communities. They are committed to bringing concerns forward, said Konstantynowicz, and they’re glad that the physicians of the province have been open and willing to talk about what their worries are.

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