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A message from 2024 CPSA Council Chair, Dr. Jaelene Mannerfeldt

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Council, January Messenger 2024 | Posted January 18, 2024
Read time: 2 minutes

With the start of any new journey comes a range of emotions: there’s often uncertainty and apprehension, but there’s also anticipation, excitement and hope of what’s to come. This is a snapshot of what I’m feeling this January as I begin my term as Chair of CPSA Council.

To start, I would like to acknowledge and thank former CPSA Council Chair Stacey Strilchuk for her leadership and dedication over the past two years. She led Council through many difficult, yet important conversations as we completed a comprehensive governance review, approved CPSA’s 2022-2026 strategic plan and launched the Healthier Albertan Grant to support safe, high-quality care throughout the province.

I would also like to thank public member Dr. Lyle Oberg and student observer Gareth Jones for their contributions to Council in 2023 and wish them well in their future endeavours. I am pleased to welcome public member Dr. William (Sam) Shaw and student observer Maren Kimura to Council this year, as well as physician member Dr. Ian Walker, who was re-elected for a second three-year term beginning in 2024.

As a profession, we saw some significant changes in 2023, including the announcement of a new plan to separate Alberta Health Services into four specialized areas: primary care, acute care, continuing care and mental health and addiction. Although we’re still awaiting more information about how this may impact our day-to-day tasks, our core responsibility as physicians remains the same: to provide high-quality, compassionate and ethical care to our patients.

As I look forward to my first Council meeting as Chair in March, I’ve been reading Uncaring: How the Culture of Medicine Kills Doctors and Patients by Dr. Robert Pearl—thank you to CPSA Registrar and CEO Dr. Scott McLeod for the recommendation. Although the book is based on the author’s experience as the CEO of a large healthcare group in the USA, there are certainly parallels to challenges we’re facing in our own healthcare environment. The ideas and discussion have been quite compelling, and I echo Dr. McLeod’s recommendation to read the book and consider how we can make health care work better for our patients.

One thing I think we can all agree on is that there is no one right answer—the solutions to these challenges are complex. It’s also important to acknowledge that working in these demanding environments can lead to a sense of moral distress when, due to challenges with resources, staffing, capacity and/or burnout, the care you want to provide is not necessarily the care you’re able to provide.

As we look ahead to 2024, I want to encourage you to first take care of and be kind to yourselves. When you are healthy, you provide the best care for your patients. Acknowledge your stress and talk about it with your colleagues, family and friends—conversations can lead to a better understanding of yourself and others. If your group does not have a peer-to-peer support program, I encourage you to connect with Well Doc Alberta and establish one. The Alberta Medical Association’s Physician and Family Support Program is also an excellent resource, and I encourage you to reach out for confidential support, should you need it.

I look forward to serving CPSA Council in 2024 and engaging in meaningful discussion with each of you as we work together to ensure patients in Alberta receive safe, equitable and high-quality health care. Thank you for all that you do.

A headshot photo of a woman taken from the chest-up. She is wearing a grey cardigan over a black and dark-green patterned shirt. She has a silver necklace on. She has chin-length blonde hair and is smiling. Dr. Mannerfeldt is currently practising in Calgary as an OBGYN at the Rockyview General Hospital, PedsGyn at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary and provides OBGYN support to the High River Hospital and surrounding communities. She is a strong advocate for women in medicine, fierce patient advocate, mentor for students and faculty and a lifelong learner.

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