Over 200 attendees from all regions of BC came together in Vancouver on April 27th, to the Specialist Symposium 2023: Responding to today’s challenges. This event was hosted by the Specialist Services Committee (SSC) with the aim of capturing the voices of front-line specialists in responding to the challenges of specialist care and setting a direction for moving forward.
The event started with Doctors of BC President Dr Josh Greggain, SSC Co-Chair Dr Jason Kur, and Dr Chris Hoag from Consultant Specialists of BC welcoming the crowd, noting that the Symposium was a unique opportunity for attendees to learn, share, and improve and hear from many clinical areas and regions, and contribute their voices to the future of specialist care in the province.
Dr Robert McDermid gave the keynote presentation and led a session on changing the narrative of health care in BC through crayons, conversations, and creativity. Following the keynote presentation, three breakout sessions to discuss current priorities in specialist care were offered and led by experts. These sessions were Specialists' Response to Primary Care Challenges, Staying Balanced Against the Odds, and Culture, Communities, and Relationships.
Drs Frank Ervin and Ian Schokking led the session on the Specialist Response to Primary Care Challenges, where specialists provided their input on how specialists could best support partners and patients, and also what supports specialists need. Doctors of BC Vice President, Physician Health Program, Tom Rapanakis led a panel on physician health and wellness and spoke about the Physician Health Program (PHP). Dr Greggain ended the Symposium with the session on Culture, Communities, and Relationships, with the goal of understanding the strengths and resources Indigenous communities bring to their members' health care. The session included the Indigenous panel members telling their stories and perspectives followed by a Q&A discussion about fostering relationships between doctors and communities.
One specialist who attended the symposium noted, “Meeting with colleagues in person and the discussion with the exchange of ideas was very satisfying. I was also moved by the storytelling session and exploring the various struggles physician go through to keep up with life and work balance.”
In addition to Doctors of BC, the BC Ministry of Health, BC health authorities, Consultant Specialists of BC, and other health partners and stakeholders, patient representatives also enthusiastically participated, bringing their voice to ground the discussions around practical issues and solutions. “My message to specialists would be to continue being brave,” stated Sandra, a patient representative for SSC. “I know there are challenges, but I want specialists to know that their patients and the community has their backs.”
The post-symposium participant evaluation described the symposium as being very successful, as well as a great platform for contributing to future specialist priorities of the province. 83% percent of participants indicated that they felt the Symposium made them feel energized about their work.
The Specialist Services Committee is one of four joint collaborative committees, representing a partnership between the government and Doctors of BC.