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Canadian medical schools affirm their social accountability regarding physician health

Posted by Jennifer Lewandowski on April 28, 2018 in News
Dr. David Anderson
Dr. David Anderson


The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) and the Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine have an enduring commitment to social accountability. The AFMC dedicated a Board meeting today to hear from leaders and learners about physician burnout with a particular focus on the strategies to build resiliency among medical students, residents and faculty in medical schools. The AFMC and Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine recognise that physician burnout is an important issue that must be dealt with openly and proactively because it affects both patient safety and physician well-being.

Poor physician health leads to poor physician functioning, which can negatively impact the quality of patient care. In addition, burnout affects physicians’ ability to lead changes at the practice and health care system levels. When physicians ‘burn out’ they leave practice, which makes solving the ongoing challenges of physician shortages in Canada even more difficult. This has a direct effect on accessibility, quality and safety of health care in Canada.

“Physician burnout is a system problem, not just an individual concern. The AFMC is committed to helping our learners and faculty members learn personal resilience skills, as well as taking realistic and compassionate approaches to combating physician burnout to ensure the sustainability of the profession,” stated Brian Postl, Chair of the AFMC Board.

“The wellness of our learners and faculty is of the highest importance to the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie. We are working in tandem with our students, residents and teachers to ensure there are programs of personal and professional support to build resilience to prevent burnout. This includes the recent creation of an Associate Dean of Resident Affairs – a role dedicated to supporting resident wellness programs – and other initiatives that promote resiliency among learners and practicing physicians,” said David Anderson, Dean of Medicine, Dalhousie University.

Health systems need to adopt realistic interventions that support medical student, resident, faculty and clinician satisfaction and well-being, and that preserve the long-term professional health of physicians. The AFMC reaffirms that it will share best practices and each medical school will undertake to offer prevention programs.

“The health care environment—with its demanding pace, time pressures, and emotional intensity—can put physicians at high risk for burnout,” stated Geneviève Moineau, AFMC President and CEO. “The AFMC is committed to ensuring a healthy workplace and learning environment for our students, residents and physicians.

About AFMC

Founded in 1943, the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) represents Canada's 17 faculties of medicine and is the voice of academic medicine in this country. Our member faculties graduate over 2,700 MDs per year; teach over 11,500 undergraduate medical students; train over 15,000 postgraduate trainees; employ nearly 48,000 full and part-time faculty members and undertake over 3 billion dollars of biomedical and health care research annually.