As our season changes from a hopeful spring to an even more hopeful summer, I am reminded how it is commonly said that the only thing constant is change. Over the past two and a half years, as family physicians we have most certainly become accustomed to change. Thankfully, our adaptability and care toward our patients and each other has served us well over this time of great uncertainty and helped us overcome the challenges that we have faced along the way.
When I think of change more broadly than how it pertains to the pandemic, I like to think of the positive changes that we have the opportunity to make as a collective family medicine community. In the spirit of this month’s recognition and celebration of both Pride and National Indigenous History Month, we have compiled a list of resources to support the development of a safe and inclusive environment for your practice.
NATIONAL INDIGENOUS HISTORY MONTH
This week, we celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day. I recognize the contributions that Indigenous populations have made to Alberta and our treaty lands; long before the arrival of settlers like many of our members, myself included. These contributions are countless and sadly, there are still many of which we are not yet aware. ACFP has made the commitment to critically review our organization for processes, language, and attitudes that contribute to systemic racism. We will address them and educate ourselves with the help of Indigenous leaders and patients on the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. We hope to make positive changes in this manner and look to you, our membership, to inform us as we educate ourselves and take steps toward ReconciliAction.
Pride celebrations are also afoot in our province, prompting me to reflect upon the tremendous diversity that our LGBTQIA2S+ populations provide to our province. Albertans who self-identify among these groups are also an example of how our organization and members need to recognize the courage required to speak openly and with joy about one’s own identity. In the past, such expressions were not encouraged, and even suppressed. In the spirit of inclusivity, ACFP has reviewed its organizational documents, including bylaws and policies to ensure that they are respectful and reflective of all genders by which our members and patients self-identify. Our work is not done however, as there is much more positive change to be made to ensure that those who are LGBTQIA2S+ feel as comfortable and safe as possible within the health care system. Again, we will look to our members to advise us on these next favourable steps.
Another positive (and exciting!) change to announce is that ACFP and PEER have mutually agreed to move away from co-presenting the annual PEIP conference. PEER will continue as the sole organizational body arranging and delivering PEIP. We know that PEER looks forward to more flexibility as the exclusive PEIP organizer, and ACFP will continue to innovate and create novel educational programs with our members’ input. This arrangement, while quite different from what we are used to, proves to be to our members’ advantage in terms of the educational options that will be made available. The ACFP is very grateful for all the years we have worked together with PEER to deliver outstanding PEIP conferences in the past. The ACFP continues to be a significant funding partner of the College of Family Physicians of Canada’s Knowledge Experts Tools Initiative which supports the Tools for Practice.
HELP SHAPE OUR FUTURE
As some of you are aware, the ACFP has been working on building a new strategic framework. Last week, a member survey was sent out to gather your thoughts and ideas. If you haven’t already, we hope that you will take the time to let us know your ideas for the future, and fill out the member survey.
Change can be tiring and uncertain at times, but change can also be crucial, exciting, and educational for ourselves and our discipline. Please join us at ACFP on these compelling journeys. We need your voices, and your participation, as we forge ahead in meaningful ways.
Sudha Koppula BSc, MD, MClSc, CCFP, FCFP
Alberta College of Family Physicians