On tour, SMA reaches out to physicians

Working as a doctor can be a stressful experience, and the Saskatchewan Medical Association wants to help doctors deal with the challenges of the job.

Dr. Allan Woo was at Blend in North Battleford Thursday hosting one stop on the Saskatchewan Medical Association’s President and Vice-President Tour. Woo is an orthopaedic surgeon and president of the association, while Dr. Barb Konstantynowicz is the association’s vice-president.

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The Saskatchewan Medical Association is an advocacy association for physicians.

The tour, Woo said, is an opportunity “for us to reach out to our colleagues across the province and find out what’s important to them.”

Health staff at the event came from the former Prairie North health region.

Woo said the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which has been amalgamated for 21 months, has changed some relationships physicians had in the past with the previous administrative bodies.

Physicians, he said, have reacted positively to the new health authority, particularly the physician leader positions within the administrative structure. But some administrative changes left some positions in a different state than before, Woo said.

In the new health system, Woo said, “we need to find our footing.”

Burnout is something doctors can experience. A couple years ago the SMA did a survey and it suggested a large number of physicians are at risk of burnout.

“We do have stresses more unique than other professions,” Woo said.

Such stresses can include physicians working alone or on-call. Being on-call, Woo said, can mean different things in different communities. Some places lack resources or may have few support staff members. Doctors also have after-hours work, including paperwork, administrative activities and meetings.

When stress overwhelms the pleasure of the job, Woo said, physicians can be at risk. One of the association’s goals is to make physicians aware of supports for them, such as the Physician Health Program, “to make sure they can stay as healthy as they can.”

Woo said doctors are supportive of the public health care system, and “we still believe a public system is the cornerstone of our healthcare.”

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