A new brand on the horizon?

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta Council, CPSA, Messenger

A word from CPSA Council’s new President

Dr. John SJ Bradley

It is with great pleasure that I write to you as the 2019 CPSA President. I have been practising medicine in Alberta for the last 14 years and this will be my fourth year on Council. Based on this experience, I believe the CPSA has an issue with its brand. For many physicians in Alberta, including myself, there is a sense of apprehension and fear when we see correspondence from the CPSA stamped “Private and Confidential”. But this does not have to be the case. It is true that as a self-regulating profession, the CPSA’s mandate is to protect the public and therefore, there’s a legislated duty to investigate every filed complaint—this must be done and done well. But the mandate can and should be addressed in ways other than just punishment and I am pleased to see the College moving in that direction.

What if as physicians, we changed the narrative? Instead as being seen primarily as a disciplinary body, what if we could view the CPSA as an entity which could assist front-line physicians with providing effective, evidence-based care, improving not only the health of Albertans but the satisfaction of both physicians and patients? With regards to how we approach the perception of the CPSA, the choice is simple: excel at the job ourselves or invite increasing, if not total intervention from others.

In this respect, our ability to achieve such a change is on the horizon and for me, the best example of this is the CPSA’s role in Continuous Professional Development (CPD). For the most part, we currently submit our Continuing Medical Education (CME) activities to the College of Family Physicians of Canada, or to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. While this ensures physicians participate in some form of CME, does it really assist us when we are at a patient’s bedside in the middle of the night? What if instead, we had access to performance metrics for investigations ordered, patient interventions and ultimately patient outcomes? What if these metrics were measured against evidence-based guidelines, proven to positively affect patient outcomes? Currently, the CPSA is at the infancy of such a program, with our reporting of individual prescribing of opioids and sedatives (MD Snapshot: Prescribing). Going forward, as data collection is integrated throughout the province, additional analysis will be possible, specific for individual areas of practice. The CPSA will likely not be the sole provider of such data, but will certainly be a key stakeholder in the application of these assessments to better patient care for all Albertans.

In the Registrar’s first Medical Matters column, he wrote that the CPSA is more than just the people working in Edmonton. It really is composed of all regulated members in Alberta and we need increased engagement from the profession, both in regulation and in the improvement of care in Alberta. For some, this may be something as easy as providing feedback on proposed Standards of Practice. Recognizing that these are designed to protect the public, we require input from our members to ensure that certain nuances of your practice will not face unintended consequences. The next level of engagement might be offering your time and expertise by joining one of the CPSA’s various committees. The time requirements are not exhaustive and these opportunities provide an introduction to and experience with self-regulation. Finally, I would encourage all Alberta physicians to consider participating in the annual elections to the CPSA Council. Whether this involves running yourself, or approaching a colleague to run, our goal should be to have a slate of candidates who represent our profession.

I have no doubt that 2019 will present both challenges and opportunities for the CPSA, some anticipated and others surprising. However, I am excited to support any changes and initiatives which further our mandate. I am also looking forward to interacting with as many Alberta physicians as possible and supporting other initiatives to increase engagement amongst all regulated members.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at jsjbradley@sedmneph.ca.

Thank you,

Dr. John SJ Bradley
CPSA Council President