Dear Colleagues,

We often speak at the Royal College about the value of Fellowship and have in fact, established this as one of the key priorities in our strategic plan. This ensures that we continually dedicate efforts and resources to strengthen the value of Fellowship in our programs and services. To us, Fellowship means working among the best. For our patients, it means seeking medical treatment from the best.

Unfortunately, as our research tells us, many if not most Canadians lack a sense of what Fellowship with the Royal College actually means. In a Royal College poll conducted by Nanos Reid this year, only 42 per cent of respondents indicated that they recognized the Fellowship designation and even among those who had been referred to a specialist, this result grew to only 50 per cent.

We’re working to change that. I am pleased to announce that several months of communication planning will come to fruition in early 2014 when the Royal College launches a national campaign to inform Canadians about the true value of Fellowship. In particular, we’re working to convey to our patients the significance of the FRCPC and FRCSC designations so that the meaning behind such titles becomes household knowledge.

The first step is an online campaign.

The new campaign is called Fellowship matters: find out why. A key part of our strategy is to leverage an online social marketing approach that builds awareness over time among the Canadian public. We will place Fellowship matters banner ads on health channels and health-related pages on the web. You will begin to notice our ads on Facebook and Google. By the end of January, we will have also created web pages with content and messaging written specifically for a public audience.

We chose an online strategy as the best first step for a number of reasons. Most importantly, launching online is the most cost-effective way to reach the widest possible audience. We know that one in three web searches by Canadians is about health care, which means there’s a relatively high probability of any given viewer finding one of our promotions. If a viewer clicks through from one of our ads to the Royal College public website — and has a good experience on our public pages — our brand benefits and word spreads. As all of this unfolds, our strategic use of Google analytics will enable us to determine which messages are getting through to Canadians and which are not. We plan to adjust our communication strategy as we learn.

Support the campaign – support the value of Fellowship.

When we launch, you will notice a new look and feel to a newly-dedicated public section of our website. You will be able to log in and download campaign materials such as a poster, which you can post in your workplace to help educate Canadians about the value of Fellowship. You will also have access to a digital button, which you can place on your website to direct visitors to the Fellowship matters campaign. The more Fellows participate, the more Canadians we will reach.

Why a public campaign?

In recent years, the proportion of doctors practising in Canada who are Fellows has been decreasing — not dramatically, but steadily. Let me be clear that our intent is to speak positively about Royal College Fellowship and the campaign will not in any way denigrate non-Fellows. While we don’t wish to raise an alarm among patients about specialists who are not Fellows, we do wish to impart a firm sense of the commitment to excellence that Canadians can expect from Fellowship and from the Royal College.

We want to inform Canadians that Fellowship carries with it the assurance that a specialist has successfully undertaken our rigorous examination process, and also that a Fellow is committed to lifelong learning via our Maintenance of Certification Program. Of these attributes, we are rightly proud. A designation of FRCPC or FRCSC demonstrates the achievement of Canada’s “gold standard” for specialists and we want all Canadians to know that. Our goal, ultimately, is that it be common practice for Canadians to explicitly ask when referred to a specialist if that person is a Royal College Fellow.

A high level of support

I have explored this issue with a few of you and I’ve been heartened by your positive reactions. We have also discussed thoroughly the concept of a promotional campaign and our draft marketing messages with our Regional Advisory Committees. I am confident that our campaign will be met with a similar sense of optimism by most Fellows.

As always, I am interested in your opinions on this matter. Please leverage the blog capability below to

  • outline what tools and promotional collateral that we can develop that would be most useful for promoting the Royal College’s brand of Fellowship among your patients;
  • identify what you could most easily display in your office or put on your website to help promote your Fellowship; and/or
  • share with us what you value about your Fellowship?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm wishes and kind regards,

Andrew Padmos, BA, MD, FRCPC, FACP

Chief Executive Officer