Response to MUS Questions

The UBC Medical Undergraduate Society (MUS) posed the following questions to Dr. Avery. His responses are presented below:

MUS: What role does the CMA play in advocating for current issues in health and human resources?

It is absolutely essential that the best possible training and supports to our medical students and residents are provided, something I have been committed to my whole career, including being a founder of PARI, the precursor to PAR-BC. Canadian medical graduates are a vital part of our healthcare system and you will be at the forefront in a very short time. This is why your involvement in this election is so important.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, Canada has slipped to 10th out of 11 Western Nations’ Health systems despite the tireless work of our medical community. The CMA has an indispensable role in reversing this trend. While there are many things that our system is doing right, there are some glaring gaps.  With an aging population, these gaps are going to get bigger.  Canadians need a National Health Strategy.  We must develop a National Pharmacare plan.  This will save billions of dollars that can be re-invested in other areas of our health care system – such as our distressingly long wait lists which impose unreasonable and unfair pressures on both the patients and their physicians. The CMA has an essential role in improving the system for all Canadians.

Often system-wide issues are felt first and most keenly in rural practice. As a rural physician, Clinical Professor and as a provincial and federal medical advocate, I have spent 30 years supporting physician practice in many different ways.  For example, due to my advocacy, with the support of others, we now have over 50 different programs supporting generalist medicine, such as REAP. Another highly effective example that can be adapted from rural practice will be to create community hospitals within cities based on the proficiencies of small and medium sized hospitals. This will allow the tertiary care hospitals and specialists function as they should, will allow for more time with the patient and provide better access to the public.

MUS: What is the relevance of the CMA to medical students and the overall medical profession?

The larger medical community needs to support our students, both financially, and with assistance for the pressures felt as students and residents progress through medical training. The ongoing concern about medical fees and the high debt-load of medical students must to be resolved. The CMA must lead the negotiation for a national fund to support medical students. Under my leadership, the CMA will bring people and organisations together to ensure that education objectives are established that meet current needs.  Our current national economic stability allows for us to work with the federal government to address many of these issues.

If you elect me, I will:

  • Continue to support and fine-tune the learning environment
  • Negotiate a national fund to support medical students
  • Support the value of generalism and our professionalism
  • Advocate for more rural training
  • Support the health and well-being of our medical students including the balance of professional responsibilities and personal/family responsibilities

Medical students from around the world met in Fortaleza, Brazil in November 2014 at The Network, Toward Unity for Health conference.  I strongly support The Fortaleza declaration and its objectives.

MUS: How do you plan on interacting with medical students and how will you ensure that the student voice is heard?

Along with my rural practice, I am fortunate to be part of the medical faculty for over 30 years and continue to be focused on the health, well-being and future of our profession. This experience has given me the opportunity to not only teach but to learn from medical students and residents.  I have always found working with students to be a very interesting and important role to me throughout my career. 

If elected, one of my first acts will be to sit down with the Canadian Federation of Medical Students to shine a light on the importance of this relationship, and I will meet with each provincial associations as well as soon as possible.  The 19th objective from the Fortaleza Declaration that medical students have leadership and management skills is very important.  I have always believed that students have way more power than is realized.  Throughout my teaching career I have always understood that students may be concerned about spill over from advocacy affecting the way they are perceived by their teachers/examiners. However, students have tremendous influence to be wielded, especially when acting together with provincial and federal medical associations.

President, Canadian Medical Association (CMA)