As we close out another year it is time to recognize and thank physicians and our healthcare partners for their hard work and dedication in serving the health needs of Saskatchewan citizens. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.
We have weathered the pandemic over the past several years and have settled into accepting that Covid has become yet another illness with which we must contend. We hope that common sense will prevail and people will protect themselves and others as best they can, by staying home when ill, continuing to keep good infection control practices, avoiding attendance at large gatherings and considering wearing a mask.
The pandemic has been hard on many and physicians are no exception. You provided care to those with Covid and you experienced illness yourself, all while re-engineering how you practise. Now, we are contending with a multitude of other seasonal illnesses, which results in the continuation of a very stressed system. With everything the healthcare system is contending with right now, every step we take to decrease the burden, is essential.
Saskatchewan physicians are known for their resilience. You have demonstrated this through the pandemic. However, we know that one crisis after another, without adequate time to recover, is very hard on the individuals who work within healthcare. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) recognizes the multiple stressors that have negatively impacted physicians. It is a challenge to do your best in the current environment and remain resilient. The CPSS believes additional support is necessary to assist in keeping physicians well. To address this, we have funded part of a position at the College of Medicine's Continuing Medical Education (CME) Department's Wellness Program. This will be in addition to the work of Dr. Anita Chakravarti who has been the program lead for a number of years. We are thrilled to hear that Dr. Alana Holt has been appointed as assistant lead.
Saskatchewan remains collaborative in its efforts to attract and retain physicians.
Canada is short of healthcare workers, including physicians. What is happening across the country is nothing short of a scramble to attract and retain physicians and other workers by a variety of mechanisms (monetary incentives, legislative changes, lowering standards etc.). There is one worrying trend happening elsewhere, but not here - various governments are bypassing current licensure practices and directing to the regulators who they must license. Little attention is being paid to the requirements for credentials and/or English language proficiency. Standards are now being considered as barriers or obstacles to licensure rather than as a means to protect the public.
We are thankful for the collaborative approach of our Government and the Saskatchewan Health Authority. We continue to work together to find creative ways to meet our need for physicians. The CPSS remains of the opinion that either obtaining examinations and/or undergoing a work-based assessment is important in maintaining reasonable standards to protect the public. In extraordinary circumstances when this is not achievable, we may need to be even more flexible, and consider restricted roles, or more intensive supervision. You may be asked by your department or division head to assist with some of this work to ensure you get the help you need and the public remains safe. We have also started some collaborative work with our Ministry of Health to include the addition of physician assistants into the work force. If there is one thing you can count on in Saskatchewan - we pull together and get it done!
Despite the heavy work demands, we hope that each and everyone of you will have some time off over the holiday period to relax and destress with family and friends. We look forward to working with you all in the New Year.