Professionalism and Civility in Medicine

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This year, we have been forced to examine professionalism in medicine like never before Civility (or lack of civility) has been called out in the media, by our regulatory College and by learners that have been at the centre of it.

What is happening to our noble profession? Why do we become creatures with the most primal instinct to defend ourselves when others challenge our thinking or world view?

Many attribute the issue to physician stress, burnout, and financial challenges. Certainly these factors contribute, but we have all learned resilience through our medical training and practice. There must be more to it.

Much of the behaviour seen in these cases has happened in the presumption of anonymity in secret online groups, email chains and via social media. With this false sense of anonymity, it is easy to speak in a way one would never speak face-to-face. Fuelled by a crowd, conversations can easily escalate to unacceptable and unprofessional levels.

Medicine is a humane profession. We can and should be above this behaviour.

In my opinion there is much to be done nationally to ensure a year like this one never happens again. As CMA President I will stand and advocate strongly for civility in promoting:

  1. A culture where alternative views are welcomed, not discouraged. I will promote a safe and dignified space for creative dissent.
  2. Talking with each other not about each other.
  3. Showing compassion for our colleagues, including residents and students, so that they feel supported in their day-to-day leadership of a movement in civility and professionalism. No doctor or trainee should feel alone in carrying their daily burden.
  4. Being accountable in what we say as professionals, which means not hiding behind internet anonymity. My conversations and advocacy will be done publicly.
  5. Standing up for colleagues who become victims of internal fighting within the profession. I will encourage them to be brave, and in fact to act, as has been my history this past year. I will ensure that CMA is a support to these courageous people.
  6. Identification of the causes of stress that produce incivility. I will push CMA to addresses these root causes nationally.
  7. Support of new CMA Charter of Shared Values, which reflects modern thinking for modern times

I believe that civility and professionalism should not just be talked about. They must be modelled and championed as a professional competency.  This has been my life’s leadership work, and will be until the end.

I am hoping you will see this priority and vote for me in the upcoming election February 15th.

#BoldPhysicianLeadership for a Modern CMA.

2 thoughts on “Professionalism and Civility in Medicine”

  1. This is a wonderful post that highlights an important issue in medicine these days. Thank you for addressing the need to attend to civility and professionalism, as both are linked to physician burnout.

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