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Message From the President – December 2020

As we bring 2020 to a close, it is important to reflect on the year we have personally and collectively experienced. I know many may want to put the year in the past. The year has brought forward a number of challenges, from the government terminating our master agreement, to various implications of legislation and policy changes on the future practice of health care in our province, to dealing with the personal and professional implications of a pandemic including the need to change how we interact with others and on how we practice medicine. The year has had no shortage of challenge for each and every one of us.

When we face challenge, there is the intrinsic risk of burnout. I recognize that many of our colleagues are facing circumstances that training couldn’t have prepared us for, from the clinical care requirements of increasing cases of COVID-19 to the implications of COVID-19 related restrictions on practice level and a societal level to the financial implications of both government policy and the pandemic on many of our practices. As always, reach out to family, friends, colleagues or the Physician and Family Support Program if you are struggling.

So why go back and reflect? The Institute of Health Care Improvement promotes the notion of ‘Joy at Work’ as a means of preventing burnout. In the times we face, I think it is important to broaden that to finding joy and meaning in your life. It is often hard to focus on the positives when there are so many negatives surrounding us, but as we enter the holiday season, I encourage everyone to reflect upon and give thanks for the positives that you have experienced this year.

On the personal side, I am thankful for the presence and support of my family, in particular my wife and daughter. On the professional side, I am thankful for the team I work with, both clinically and at the ACFP, and the support patients have shown us through this year. I am thankful for all of you as colleagues throughout the province, who remain dedicated and committed to our patients and communities and am honored by the opportunity to represent you through this role. From the advocacy side, I am thankful that there are employees within the government that are still wanting to engage in conversation, respond to feedback and bring forward concerns of us health care providers to the elected representatives they report to.

As we close out 2020, we hope to leave the challenges behind, but carry the learnings and positives forward. We enter 2021 optimistic about vaccine candidates that may end the pandemic, optimistic about the support that the public has shown the health care profession for being there for them in times of need, and optimistic that the lessons learned will be a reminder to policy makers about the importance of preserving and strengthening our publicly funded health care system and the ability of family physicians to continue to be a resource and a beacon for the communities we serve. I invite you to share the latest videos from our Heart of Family Medicine public awareness campaign on your respective clinic websites, LCD displays, and social media accounts.

On behalf of myself, the ACFP Board and staff, I wish you all a Happy Holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, another cultural or traditional holiday, or simply celebrate the spirit of good will that the holiday season reminds us all of, take time to recharge over this season and reflect on the positives and what brings meaning to your life.

Best wishes for the coming New Year.

Vishal Bhella MD, CCFP
Alberta College of Family Physicians

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