Extraordinary Fellows, Exceptional Care. The Royal College in 2018

Specialty Care and Health Systems

A healthy medical workforce starts with planning

Our Medical Workforce Knowledgebase (MWK) makes it easier to look at physician workforce trends. First launched in 2016, it uses data elements from several authoritative sources to provide insights on the size and composition of Canada’s current and future physician workforce.

The second edition of the MWK launched in 2018. It includes new subspecialty data:

  • residency quota and new trainees by faculty of medicine, and
  • the sex distribution of the licensed physician workforce.

We also spent the year advancing another data-sharing project: Canada’s Physician Database (CPDB). This work is being done is in partnership with the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Canadian Medical Association.

The CPDB brings together data from provincial/territorial medical regulatory authorities (MRAs) to improve our overall view of the Canadian physician workforce, while maintaining confidentiality/security and reducing the burden of self-reporting.


A feasibility study report for the development of a CPDB was produced. This marked the end of the Phase I pilot, which used data from three participating MRAs.


Phase II is launching, which will include data from more jurisdictions.

A good part of 2018 was also spent preparing the next release of data from our ongoing Employment Study. Our study related to medical care for Canada’s elderly is also expected in 2019.

Ongoing dialogue with National Specialty Societies

  • Over 30 National Specialty Societies attended our Human Resources for Health Dialogue event in December 2018, which focused on addressing population needs and anticipating these needs in overall physician workforce planning. Speakers included Ms. Carolyn Canfield, a citizen-patient, who shared her story of the gaps she experienced in the health care system leading up to the death of her husband. Attendees were encouraged to reflect on how patients interact with our current health care system, before rotating into break-out sessions to explore needs-based planning and solutions to employment challenges of newly certified specialists.


Every day, Dr. Ak’ingabe Guyon, a Public Health and Preventive Medicine specialist at the Direction régionale de santé publique in Montreal, goes to the office filled with gratitude and a deep sense of accomplishment. “I work to produce health and, together with my colleagues, we have achieved tremendous success over the last century.” In fact, over the last 100 years, life expectancy in North America has increased by 30 years, of which 25 can be attributed to prevention.

Dr. Guyon believes her job is to keep the entire population healthy. In her evidence-based work, she sounds the alarm and speaks out against massive cuts to prevention budgets in her province. This is why she was awarded the Public Health Physicians of Canada’s President’s Award in 2018 and featured as the Person of the Week in La Presse.

Strengthening prevention networks is a top focus of her job

Even if Dr. Guyon is quite preoccupied by the prevention challenges ahead, she remains hopeful: “By strengthening our prevention networks, we are giving society the best tools to ensure that everyone who is born and grows up is able to achieve their full potential and remain healthy, for as long as possible.”

For her, being a Fellow is a great privilege because it means to be guided by “pathfinders.” She recalls gaining a wealth of knowledge during her last years of residency and explains that this allowed her to fully understand the complexity of her work.

Beyond the standards set by the Royal College in terms of competency, Dr. Guyon feels that it is her mission to maintain health and to influence the health care system to deliver real improvement for all Canadians. She truly hopes that prevention will become a key priority of the Royal College because she is very worried by the weakening of prevention efforts in several provinces and territories. “Prevention is the most effective way to generate health. It’s important to fix what is broken, but the role of a health system is first to help people stay healthy.”

Action on Indigenous health

We are committed to working with Indigenous experts to address the ongoing health inequities and racism faced by Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. In late 2017, Royal College Council approved a recommendation from our Indigenous Health Advisory Committee (IHAC) to make Indigenous health a mandatory component of postgraduate medical education (PGME). We are being led and guided by our Indigenous partners as we undertake several activities in support of this decision.

  • An Indigenous Health PGME Implementation Steering Committee was formed. It is chaired by Lisa Richardson, MD, FRCPC, co-chair of IHAC.
  • IHAC members and other Indigenous experts drafted the Indigenous Health in Speciality PGME Entry-to-practice Competencies Guide. This guide will ultimately outline competency milestones related to Indigenous health and identify practical tools to introduce this new element into PGME.
  • IHAC and other Indigenous experts steered the development of an Indigenous Health Primer. It will be released in 2019 and act as a learning resource for health care providers, learners and educators.
  • The aforementioned guide complements the Royal College Indigenous Health Values and Principles statement, which was updated in 2018 to reflect changes in the health landscape and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.


Marcia Anderson knew by the age of four that she wanted to be a doctor. Soon after starting medical school at the University of Manitoba, she knew what her focus would be. “I just knew I wanted to actively focus my career on Indigenous health.”

With that goal in mind, she specialized in Internal Medicine and completed a Master of Public Health degree. “I thought Internal Medicine would give me a wide knowledge base around the common health challenges Indigenous people face,” says Dr. Anderson, who is Cree-Saulteaux. “I did the master’s degree because I knew I wasn’t going to have the kind of impact I wanted working one patient at a time. I needed to work at a population health level with a systems focus.”

Her clinical work is community-based, integrated with Indigenous youth and other organizations. “The focus of my public health work is to create broader social environments that create equal opportunity for Indigenous people to be healthy.”

Supporting improvements in Indigenous health energizes her work

Dr. Anderson is medical officer of health for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. She leads development and implementation of Truth and Reconciliation Response Action Plans for the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Health Sciences. She is also executive director of Indigenous Academic Affairs at the faculty’s Ongomiizwin Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing. It is the largest institute of its kind in Canada, guided by Knowledge Keepers and Elders, and mandated to advance Indigenous research, education and health services.

“We have a ton of momentum and a strong cohort of Indigenous leaders. I think we’re on the leading edge of academic medicine and how it could better support Indigenous health.”

Dr. Anderson supports the Royal College in its ongoing efforts to improve the health care and wellness of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. She has been a member of the Indigenous Health Advisory Committee since 2014. “Our committee is inter-professional and multidisciplinary, which reflects an Indigenous world view on health that is grounded in the social determinants that impact our health status.”

In 2017, the Royal College announced its plans to make Indigenous health a mandatory component of postgraduate medical education. “That’s been the big payoff. Structural factors like accreditation standards and standing committees are more likely to result in meaningful change at the local level.”

When Dr. Anderson was in medical school two decades ago, little attention was paid to Indigenous medical education. Now, thanks in part to her work, meaningful change is underway. “It’s great to be able to support work like that.”

Highlighting patient safety and research

Throughout 2018, we continued to develop our research efforts with a variety of patient safety and scholarly activities. Here are some highlights.

New e-book

We worked with experts in Canada to develop a free e-book for Fellows working in acute care. Navigating Medical Emergencies – An interactive guide to patient management can help transform teamwork culture, improve patient safety and potentially save lives.

Simulation courses

We presented our Practice Performance and Innovation courses throughout the year. These courses and related services enhance patient safety by building capacity in simulation-based medical education.

Royal College Research Report

We published our first Research Report in early 2018 (covering activities from 2017). Comprehensive and informative, it also serves as an expression of our enduring commitment to scholarship.

Visiting Scholars Program

We launched applications for our new Visiting Scholars Program. External scholars and scientists will have the opportunity to connect with Royal College experts to leverage relevant knowledge and information. Our first scholars will visit in 2019.

Dr. Karen Mann grant

The new Dr. Karen Mann Catalyst Grant in Medical Education Research encourages entry into medical education research through mentorship. Our first recipient is Dr. Tomas J. Saun.

Research funding

We awarded in excess of $610,000 in research funding across six grant categories.

Our Research Task Force also met throughout 2018. Its purpose is to formulate and recommend a Royal College research strategy for the years ahead. Their final report is forthcoming in early 2019.

Spotlight on the Professor-in-Residence Program

  • In 2018, we launched the Professor-in-Residence Program. A thought leader in health care is invited to spend time at the Royal College to connect with staff. The goal is to drive innovation and new ways of thinking that will benefit Royal College programs and processes. Our first Professor-in-Residence — Dr. Richard Reznick, FRCSC, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University — delivered the inaugural Professor-in-Residence lecture on February 22, 2018.

Meeting with the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor

On May 4, 2018, Royal College senior leaders met with the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Federal Minister of Health. This was an opportunity to exchange ideas on key health policy issues including mental health, the opioid crisis, access to care issues and medical marijuana.

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