To the Editor:
There has been much recent discussion in Nova Scotia about the importance of physician engagement in health planning. For example, a group of physicians wrote a paper on the issue, as a follow up to their ‘Nova Scotia Healthcare Solutions Paper — A Start’ and health system experts, such as Mary Jane Hampton, have pointed to the need for more effective engagement.
While these discussions provide an opportunity for the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), the IWK Health Centre and the provincial government to consider how physicians, and other front line health professionals, can be better engaged, they also provide an opportunity for providers to consider how to better participate in the system.
A group of physicians from across the province have decided to take a proactive role, fostering grassroots physician participation through Medical Staff Organizations (MSOs). MSOs can be found across the province and across the country. They’re independent from the NSHA, IWK and Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) and serve to support professional collegiality, continuing medical education and advocacy for issues of importance to physicians and their patients. MSOs are ideally placed to respond to local community needs rather than addressing ‘the big picture’ and a formal structure for MSOs allows local issues to be recognised within the larger picture.
Physicians report that they are feeling increasingly disconnected from the system. We hope that, through revitalizing MSOs, physicians will grasp this opportunity for engagement. In order to do this, MSOs need to be recognized and supported by key partners, including the NSHA, IWK, DNS and the provincial government. This includes ensuring they are consulted on issues impacting their communities, supported through governance structures and identified as partners in improving the health system.
The work underway to strengthen medical staff organizations is an example of how physicians want to work to better the system, to demonstrate leadership and commitment, and to engage with others as a collective voice for the profession and for a better health care system for all of us.
Dr. Pippa Moss
President, Cumberland Medical Staff Organization
Acting President, Northern Zone Medical Staff Organization