Dear colleagues,

We’re part of an evolution that is probably going to have as dramatic an effect on how we practice medicine as the introduction of antiseptics or antibiotics.

You’ve probably noticed that our role as physicians has been evolving over time. The Royal College is addressing this in educational development by transforming physician training to a competency-based approach, improving our residency accreditation processes, and determining a new approach to continuing professional development.

The digital revolution is really spurring these changes. We’re moving to a system which clearly has more technical support and capabilities in order to come up with diagnoses. There are also more diagnostic categories, staging of diseases, molecular signatures and explanations for disease to grapple with. At the same time, almost in reaction to this technology, there seems to be a growing hunger for the humane physician.

Patients are seeking physicians who are professional, good at communicating (both speaking and listening) and capable advocates, all within a setting that is digitized — driven by guidelines and evidence, on very short timelines. This is going to be a challenge for us all. We will have to wait and see the actual impacts the distribution of time, effort and technology is going to have on how we are physicians; but, I’m watching these changes closely and with interest.

The Royal College is part of a group at the Canadian Medical Forum (i.e. leaders in Canada’s major, national medical organizations) who has been studying “The evolving role of physicians and the medical profession.” This project is endeavoring to present a vision for the “physician of the future” in Canada, based on the current and forecasted state of our health care system.

The draft results of this project’s multi-phase survey of Canadian physicians, other health care professionals and patients; combined with a review of recent research and reports on physicians’ roles; was just shared with the project partners. I would be happy to share more details on these findings and proposed next steps, once a final report is available.

In the meantime, I’m curious; what’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in your practice from when you started in medicine until now?

Sincerely,

Andrew Padmos, BA, MD, FRCPC, FACP

Chief Executive Officer