Dear Colleagues,

At the close of our current fiscal year, it is a fitting time to look back on accomplishments and bring Fellows up-to-date on where the Royal College is headed. Let me comment on recent activities and also describe some of the more notable accomplishments highlighted in our 2013 Annual Review.

Annual meeting of the members

We held our annual members meeting on February 20. We examined our financial statements and a report from our audit committee, both of which indicated that we have a healthy organization — now 44,000 members strong — moving into 2014. A small annual fee increase was approved by members.

In 2013, we also welcomed Kevin Imrie, MD, FRCPC, as the 43rd President-Elect of the Royal College. Dr. Imrie is a Toronto-based hematologist and award-winning educator. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Imrie.

Release of our Annual Review

On February 20 we also released our online 2013 Annual Review, which I invite you to peruse online at your leisure. (You may also read a brief version of the annual review here or request a hard copy if print is your preferred medium). We saw impressive achievements in 2013 under the five Key Result Areas of our strategic plan. Below are a few paragraphs outlining some of the more noteworthy results.

Competent physicians
Last year we developed a project and consultation plan for Competence by Design, or CBD, which is the name of the Royal College’s reorientation toward a competency-based medical education (CBME) model of learning and assessment. We will develop CBD over several years through a process of consultation and collaboration with Fellows and the wider medical education community. I am pleased to report that several projects that support CBD got underway in 2013. One such supporting project was the Royal College’s work to update the CanMEDS Physician Competency Framework, including a national consultation on this important work.

As a recent email informed you, the Royal College released the first draft of our updated CanMEDS 2015 Framework – Series 1 on February 19. We welcome your feedback as part of our commitment to consulting with you throughout this process. (Click here to learn more about how to get involved).

Health, health care and health systems
In 2013 we released a first-of-its-kind human resources study into physician employment that confirmed what we suspected to be true: an increasing number of certified specialist physicians and surgeons cannot find jobs in their discipline. Many physicians, we found, are underemployed or — worse — unemployed. We came to our findings following 50 in-depth interviews with medical and health system experts, residents and others, as well as an online survey of specialists (newly-certified in 2011 and 2012). Our report, called Too many, too few doctors? What’s really behind Canada’s unemployed specialists? drew substantial media scrutiny and ignited a fresh dialogue on this emerging phenomenon. On February 18 and 19, 2014, we held a national summit with partners to reach a better understanding on the root causes of unemployment and underemployment and to decide on the best way forward to develop a pan-Canadian strategy for health human resources planning in collaboration with the federal, provincial and territorial Committee on Health Workforce.

Innovation, research and scholarship
In November, the Royal College launched the Innovation and Technology Task Force. The task force comprises Fellows, primarily, and is looking into the important issue of how best to incorporate cost-effective technologies into Canadian health care. We know that nothing can replace the expertise of a Royal College Fellow, but we wish to find answers to such questions as: Which technologies can help us analyze the extraordinary breadth of research available today? What new software can put the most up-to-date diagnostic information at our fingertips? The task force is working with industry players in medical innovation and technology to learn about research and development trends, and to make suggestions about areas of critical need for specialist physicians.

Value of Fellowship
A Nanos Research poll that we conducted in 2013 yielded some interesting information about Canadians’ understanding of Royal College Fellowship. Although the Fellowship designation is not widely understood among Canadians who have been referred to a specialist (42 per cent), when prompted, Canadians attach a high importance to having a specialist who is a Fellow (77 per cent). We reasonably concluded that increasing public awareness about the significance of Royal College Fellowship — including our commitment to enhance our competence and performance through lifelong learning — would enhance our overall brand. To this end, we developed a social marketing campaign aimed at communicating with the Canadian public that will launch in March 2014.

We also made advances in 2013 in our tactics for communicating with Fellows. As a result of our blogs and active presence on Facebook and Twitter, communication with and among Fellows is more reciprocal than ever before.

International outreach
Key to our international work is our effort to reach out to organizations in other jurisdictions so that we can share our medical expertise as widely as possible. In October, we co-hosted the inaugural Latin American Conference on Residency Education (LACRE) in Santiago, Chile, with the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. LACRE is the second regionally-tailored residency education conference that the Royal College has supported (the first was the Saudi Arabian Conference on Residency Education, or SACRE). Planning is underway for a similar conference in China in spring 2014 and a second LACRE in 2015.

Also on the international agenda in 2013 was humanitarian work in Nepal for which all Fellows should be rightly proud. The Royal College collaborated with Canadian critical care specialists to develop a program in Critical Care at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu. We signed a formal agreement with the university in the spring and then, in October, welcomed the first resident into the training program. The program is run under the direction of Canadian-trained physician Dr. Subhash Acharya.

Add your voice to our next phase of strategic planning

As our current three-year strategic plan “The goal that matters most” nears the end of its life, we will embark on a new planning phase to re-examine our direction and refresh our priorities. We view this refresh as an opportunity to

  • reflect on the Royal College’s accomplishments;
  • identify gaps and new opportunities; and
  • fine-tune priority directions and strategic objectives within our five strategic domains (Key Result Areas):
    • Competent physicians
    • Health, health care and health systems
    • Innovation, research and scholarship
    • Value of Fellowship
    • International outreach

I invite you to add your voice to the dialogue about our accomplishments and direction. What should the Royal College be considering as priorities for 2014 and the years ahead? Please leave a comment below to share your ideas with us and to read what other Fellows are saying.

I look forward to hearing your feedback.

Best wishes and warm regards,

Andrew Padmos, BA, MD, FRCPC, FACP
Chief Executive Officer