One of the benefits of being the “New Guy” is that you get to spend time meeting people and listening to their views. For my first month as CPSA Registrar this is exactly what I’ve done. What has struck me the most is the keen desire everyone has to improve health care for all Albertans.
As part of my orientation, I have been able to speak with senior leadership from Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, a variety of other health professions, CPSA staff and individual care providers. Everyone agrees providing health care in a developed society is a complex endeavour and no one expects there to be a magic solution to fix it. Everyone does, however, realize we need to do something to improve care while controlling escalating costs.
From those I have spoken to so far, it’s clear our front line care providers work hard every day to improve the health and the care of Albertans, but the day-to-day struggles are not getting easier. Over the next few months, I will talk about a few things I believe the CPSA and physicians in general should consider to help improve the care provided in Alberta. This article focuses on recognizing the value of high functioning teams.
I told myself when I started that I would try to avoid using military analogies in my new job, but I find myself compelled to fall back on my experience to talk about the importance of high functioning teams. Over the past 27 years I have had the tremendous fortune to be a part of some incredible teams, whether that was the Canadian Armed Forces Air Demonstration Team, the Snowbirds, or everyone that was a part of saving lives in Afghanistan. The key to their success was recognizing each individual’s value and how the final outcome hinged on how well the group performed as a team. Everyone began by learning the skills of their trade, but very soon we were brought into small teams to work together and eventually those teams adapted into larger and larger groups as required. Working together as a small team was essential, but knowing you were still part of a larger team with a common goal was just as important.
Fundamentally, everyone working in health care has the same goal: to provide safe, high quality health care. We have individuals, small teams and some larger organizations working well together, but as a rule of thumb we could all improve how well we connect with each other and function as high performing teams. Health care is, without question, a team-based activity. We must understand and appreciate each person’s or organization’s contribution to the team. Our success in improving health care will be dependent on how well we work together.
Every physician practising medicine in Alberta is a member of a team whether they believe it or not. This is not dissimilar to a fighter pilot, who may appear to be working independently on a mission but is supported by many others. Maintainers, air controllers, decision makers, intelligence officers, doctors and lawyers all play a pivotal role in the success or failure of the mission.
The CPSA is also a part of the health leadership team in Alberta, and we look forward to working with other strategic health care organizations, professional colleges and associations to improve the care provided to Albertans.
-Dr. Scott McLeod