Message from the Registrar

December 2021
By: Dr. Karen Shaw, CPSS Registrar & CEO

Wave After Wave - Can We Stay Afloat? 


COVID and the Toll on the Profession

Before this year comes to a close, I would like to take one more opportunity to thank you for your dedication and unwavering commitment to your patients during this pandemic. Practising during COVID has been a challenge from the start and it forced an immediate change in how care is delivered. You achieved significant accomplishments in establishing virtual care, essentially overnight, and designing and implementing a safe method for the delivery of in-person care for patients, while keeping your staff and yourselves safe.

Physicians are no different than patients in that we worry about safety, uncertainty, disrupted routines and financial matters. COVID has caused a very prolonged period of uncertainty which continues to add to life stressors in our already complex lives. This uncertainty leads to other questions that weigh heavy on physicians’ minds including:

  • How can we continue to practise to the standard expected in such an environment?
  • How long can a workforce endure such stress and continue to perform well?
  • How can we manage all the other roles we juggle as practice partner/business person while still being supportive and present for our families? 

In this issue of DocTalk, there is an article by Ms. Brenda Senger, Director of the Saskatchewan Physician Health Program (SPHP) on compassion fatigue. Ms. Senger  states: 
"burnout results from our interactions with work. But compassion fatigue results from our interactions and relationships with the patient we provide care to and the colleagues we support." 

Compassion fatigue is not about "losing" compassion, but rather it is about not having the capacity to give that same degree of professional emotional support to our patients and their families, even when we want to.

The College has received expressions of concern that many physicians are chronically feeling physically and emotionally exhausted, suffering from irritability, having difficulty sleeping with an inability to concentrate resulting in a loss of productivity, and are feeling a general sense of hopelessness. Retirement or a change in career may have crossed your minds. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you may be dealing with compassion fatigue. I urge you to read Ms. Senger’s article about compassion fatigue, what it is and what can you do about it.

If exercising the basics of self care and practising self compassion aren't enough,  reach out to the Saskatchewan Physician Health Program (SPHP). We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful resource in this province. The College has a strong and respectful working relationship with the SPHP. However, our preference is for physicians to be proactive and reach out to the SPHP for themselves and their families, and also their colleagues, whenever there is a need.


Medical Practice Coverage

Members are reminded that the College Council approved amendments to the Medical Practice Coverage Policy in March 2021. At the time the policy was adopted Council directed that active enforcement would not occur for a period of one year, in order to provide education and feedback regarding these expectations. Please note that this grace period expires March 2022.

Information on this policy was published in the May 2021 edition of DocTalk Volume 8, Issue 2, which is available on the College’s website. In addition, you should have recently received an email which addresses the highlights of the amended Medical Practice Coverage Policy. The underlying principle for the policy is that "all physicians involved in direct patient care have an obligation to arrange for 24-hour coverage for patients currently under their care". Please read the email that was sent to you and review the infographic which suggests one approach to ensure compliance with the telephone expectations in this policy. If you have any additional questions after you review the policy and the educational materials, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Survey: Wellbeing of Health Care Providers in Saskatchewan

You will have recently received an email from the CPSS with an invitation from Dr. Noelle Rohatinsky and Dr. Juan-Nicolas Pena-Sanchez, faculty members of the College of Nursing and the College of Medicine to participate in a research study  to examine physicians, registered nurses and respiratory therapists care providers’ wellbeing and intentions to leave clinical practice in Saskatchewan.” Please take the time to provide your perspective,

Click on the following links for more information: 
Survey: Wellbeing and intentions to leave clinical practice of health care providers in Saskatchewan, Canada,
Letter of Invitation ||  Study Recruitment Poster

Refresh and Regenerate

Please take some time over this holiday season to refresh and regenerate with your loved ones. Enjoy the simple things in life and keep safe. May the New Year bring us a renewed sense of hope.

Respectfully submitted,

Karen Shaw

  Dr. Karen Shaw has served as Registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan since 2011.