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On the sharp end of the rope: “Doc McLaren” on saving UN troops in Mali

Photo 1 Photo has been modified for operational security purposes. Canadian medics receive a simulated Dutch patient to be loaded into a CH-147F Chinook helicopter as part of a MINUSMA aeromedical evacuation exercise during Operation PRESENCE-Mali on October 10, 2018. Photo: Corporal Ken Beliwicz © 2018 DND-MDN Canada

This was it.

As Andrew McLaren, MD, FRCPC, braced for impact, the CH-147F Chinook ditched rapidly to the water’s surface. The 17-tonne beast hit the surface, teetering for a moment before overturning; it just couldn’t sustain the weight of the twin engines overhead.

The shock of the cold water was breathtaking, but he’d been in this situation before. With seconds to spare, he got himself oriented and set to the task of escaping the (now) upside-down helicopter.

…only Dr. McLaren had never left the ground.

High-intensity training in preparation for deployment

Dr. McLaren (or “Doc McLaren,” as he is commonly known in the field) was taking part in Underwater Escape Training, part of an intensive roster of survival systems and safety training in the lead up to his deployment as part of a helicopter rescue team to Mali in the summer of 2018.

An internist-intensivist in Nanaimo, B.C., who describes himself as “a bit of a hybrid,” Dr. McLaren’s considerable experience in trauma care and rescue made him a perfect Roto 0 (first rotation) medical lead for Operation PRESENCE — Canada’s one-year mission to support the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali through 24/7 capability to medically evacuate UN troops by air.

Note: Dr. McLaren holds the title of “Major McLaren” with the Canadian Armed Forces, but chose to be referred to as “Dr. McLaren” in this article.

From the mountains to the air to the battlefield

Dr. McLaren grew up in the suburbs of Vancouver. Drawn to the mountains from an early age, he got involved in mountain rescue work. Initially, he thought about becoming a paramedic. It was a neighbour of his (who was himself a senior paramedic in B.C.) who changed his career trajectory.

“I’ve always had an interest in pre-hospital care in an austere environment. He said, ‘look, you should just go to medical school and get doing what you want to do earlier than hanging out in the paramedic world.’ He pushed me into medicine, and I’ve tried to maintain my interest in all things rescue and pre-hospital throughout my medical training. I’ve managed to do that.”

Photo 2 Major Andrew McLaren at Camp Castor in Gao, Mali on October 27, 2018. Photo: Corporal Ken Beliwicz © 2018 DND-MDN Canada

After completing an ICU fellowship in London, Ont., he moved to London, England. There, he took a job with HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service), operated by London’s Air Ambulance.

The HEMS response rapidly places a trauma doctor and paramedic at the point of injury and ultimately transports patients to one of dozens of receiving hospitals within the M25 highway circling London. Due to London’s population and hospital density, early and advanced decision-making are possible (and big factors in the success of this civilian model of pre-hospital care).

Unsurprisingly, the Canadian Forces had interest in taking this concept to the battlefield.

The UK’s Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) that deployed to Afghanistan operates using a similar model to London HEMS. It became the basis of CMERT (the Canadian MERT) — the project that would ultimately land Dr. McLaren in Mali.

Physician-led resuscitation team

CMERT started several years ago as a project to push advanced care and decision-making “far forward” in a non-permissive environment. As the capability was developed, Operation PRESENCE was announced; this became the CMERT’s first deployment.

Through CMERT, Canada is supporting the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). When called upon, a team of medical professionals fly to the point of injury, evacuate the patient(s) and provide resuscitation care while in flight. By improving the response time to deliver damage control resuscitation (DCR), they effectively extend the safety envelope and enable troops on the ground to travel farther out into the field to do peace support.

Photo 3 Task Force Mali, deployed as part of MINUSMA conducted a MEDEVAC exercise on October 3, 2018 to test their readiness to react to an injured MINUSMA soldier in Gao, Mali. Photo: Lieutenant (Navy) Melanie Aqiqi © 2018 DND-MDN Canada

“CMERT not only aims to put a physician early in the patient’s timeline, but also gets high-quality blood product to the point of injury and a resus room to the patient,” explained Dr. McLaren. “All of those elements are quite unique.”

Quick facts on CMERT

  • Helicopter: CH-147F Chinook and two CH-146 Griffons (travelling as a group)
  • Four-person team: Critical care physician, critical care nurse and two medical technicians
  • Deployment: Gao, Mali (July 2018 to July 2019)
  • Unique characteristics:
    • Early, advanced decision-making by a trauma physician
    • Blood product is brought to the point of injury within the “golden hour”
    • The resuscitation room is brought to the patient: “load and go and play”

Making it in Mali

Dr. McLaren was deployed to Mali in July 2018. He led CMERT Team 2 through to the end of the year and returned in January of 2019 to teach the incoming team (Roto 1), deployed to cover the second half of the mission.

“The first month [after arrival in Mali], the humidity was incredibly high — more than 80% — and that made it very uncomfortable for living, let alone training and working,” said Dr. McLaren, who was familiar with desert- and savanna-type heat from previous work in Kandahar, Haiti and Sierra Leone. “We were drinking upwards of 15 litres of water a day.”

Photo 4 Members of the CH-147 Chinook medical team use a portable ultrasound machine on a simulated Dutch casualty during a medical evacuation exercise in support of Operation PRESENCE - Mali around Gao, Mali on July 31, 2018. Photo: MCpl Jennifer Kusche, Canadian Forces Combat Camera © 2018 DND-MDN Canada

His team rotated one-day-on, one-day-off aeromedevac call for six to seven months.

While on-call, they were expected to launch within 15 minutes. The first few hours of those mornings would be spent getting into that state of readiness (e.g. getting orders, understanding the state of affairs outside camp, readying the aircraft and getting the gear on board).

To provide effective care on a moving helicopter, he and his team would be tethered to the floor. They had to move carefully, so as to not get tangled. They also relied on a mix of body language and intercoms for effective communication. To combat the wind, equipment was fixed to special bags. Garbage and waste were stored in roll-down bags attached to their tactical vests.

The need for precision meant they spent their off-call days running drills and doing more training, often running full simulated scenarios. On occasion, they would switch it up for classroom discussions on different medical components, aviation topics and tactical training with the infantry unit.

“The whole job is about improving the safety profile and staying within a risk envelope that’s acceptable (whether it’s a mission or whether it’s training). I really like thinking about that balance and operating on the ‘sharp end of a rope,’ so to speak. I think that’s the challenge and the fun part for me.”

Take a tour of Dr. McLaren’s working environment on the CH-147F Chinook
Watch Dr. McLaren’s video on the Department of National Defence website (5.46 mins).

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Dr. Bowmer is your new President — read his investiture speech

“Those of you who know me know that I tell stories. It’s how I developed my teaching and it’s an approach I used during my administrative career. I’d like to share two of those stories tonight.”

In late February 2019, M. Ian Bowmer, MDCM, FRCPC, FRCP, FCAHS, became the 45th President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Keep scrolling to read his investiture speech or link to Dr. Bowmer’s biography.

Speech by Dr. Bowmer (Council dinner, February 2019)

Thank you, I feel like I am embarking on a new adventure.

Je vous remercie infiniment pour cet immense honneur. Votre appui et votre confiance me vont droit au cœur.

By now, you have realized that I have an accent in both official languages. That’s because, as Newfoundlanders say, I’m not from here; I’m a “Come from Away.” I came to Canada, from England, over 60 years ago with my family to find a better life. My most vivid memory is arriving by ship and the trip up the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City to Montreal. It was a glorious July day. I spent the whole time on the deck looking out to land. Clusters of brightly coloured red, blue and silver roofed houses, centered around grand churches with towering silver, gold and copper steeples. Beautiful stripes of green and brown, forests and fields, stretching back from the shore — seigneuries dating back to the 17th century.

We were settlers, in the modern sense. I have since come to understand the significance of the complexities around that term. In that context, I too would like to honour the Algonquin people and recognize that we are holding our meetings on their traditional, unceded territory.

As I come back to Council after nearly 20 years absence, I am proud and relieved that we have begun to address the concerns of this land’s Indigenous Peoples. It has taken too long.

However, I do think we have started to listen and to include our Indigenous colleagues in every discussion. I promise that I will continue to listen, to expand the collaboration and to continue respectful involvement in all issues that face our [Royal] College.

Those of you who know me know that I tell stories. It’s how I developed my teaching and it’s an approach I used during my administrative career. I’d like to share two of those stories tonight.

First, my journey with the Royal College.

As a new faculty member at Memorial University, I was invited by Ms. Louise Papineau (who retired last year after over 50 years with the [Royal] College) to become a Royal College examiner in Internal Medicine. I was honoured by the invitation; but, also, my own examination experience had been fairly traumatic so deep down I thought this might be an opportunity to make the process more humane. I soon discovered I was perhaps just a little naïve. The more I thought I was helping to clarify, etc. (in a neutral way) the more the poor candidates thought I was trying to trick them. But what I also discovered was that my involvement was a wonderful learning experience and that it gave me an incredible network of colleagues.

So, I jumped at other opportunities the Royal College offered. Through each experience, I grew as a clinician, as a teacher and as an educator, learning more and more about medical education’s methodologies, philosophy and assessment. Not just assessment of the individual, but also the need for and the value of assessment of the system. I never questioned the value of my Royal College because my Royal College drew a young faculty physician deeper into medical education and became a collective mentor and teacher.

For me, it is no wonder that we can aspire to be the global leader in medical education.

My second story is not so happy.

Almost 10 years after my RC oral examination, I saw my first patient with AIDS. It was early 1984 (35 years ago and still raw in my mind). He was 28 and had come home to Newfoundland to tell his family he was gay, had AIDS and to die of this devastating, deforming, mysterious infectious disease. He landed in St. John’s, told his family and they brought him straight from the airport to the hospital. Sadly, they rarely saw him again. I can understand how difficult it was for the family, though of course their fear made it more so for the patient. I have many stories from that difficult time... stories of fear, stigma, rejection, but also of wonderful love and sacrifice. We all struggled with how to cope with this terrible disease. Aside from the tragedies of our patients and the challenges AIDS presented to families, I sometimes experienced that, as a profession, we were lacking humanity and, as a society, we too often condemned rather than supported. In Newfoundland and Labrador, over time, from a mix of patients, care providers, politicians and policy-makers, we created a great multidisciplinary, collaborative approach. National networks eventually evolved, but more from the drive of patients and care providers than health care leaders. Ironically, it was the CFPC [College of Family Physicians of Canada] that asked me to chair Health Canada’s first national working group to develop an HIV care and treatment module for adults and adolescents.

What was missing early on was a national body pulling together a network of expertise to provide guidance, mentoring and peer support. Where was my Royal College when we needed those links?

But new diseases are not the only change we have faced during our careers.

Physicians and surgeons in this room have all experienced similar dramatic mid-career changes in their practice. Laparoscopic and other low-invasive surgical procedures come to mind, in surgery.

These changes pale when one starts to look to the future of deep-learning computers, artificial intelligence, new bio-mechanical technologies, genomic manipulation and pharmacogenetic medicine.

Where will my Royal College be as these changes are rapidly introduced and accepted by patients, society, governments and industry?

I want us to be right there, up front, guiding their introduction, assessing their efficacy and working with colleagues and patients as they adjust to the new knowledge and technologies.

Richard [Reznick] has written an insightful blog about this and the role of his Council Committee. I think we are on the right track. [Link to Dr. Reznick’s post on AI on the Queen’s University website]

We have all the expertise within our membership through our specialty societies to develop the necessary supportive learning environments that were not available during my career shift. One of our strengths as a [Royal] College is that we have all the specialties under one roof and can share across them. We can recruit beyond our profession to create collaborative centres that will support and enable our Fellows to adjust.

This will be a significant change in what we expect of CPD [continuing professional development]. Less monitoring; more mentoring and actively, proactively serving as a catalyst. It means that we recognize the oversight of learning does not stop at certification and that this requires the active participation of the Royal College.

We know that medicine is a continual journey and I am looking forward to working with you so that our members feel our Royal College is there to support them during this time of unprecedented change. I know we have the skills, knowledge and passion in this room and our [Royal] College to make it happen.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to our current president, Dr. Françoise Chagnon.

When describing Françoise it’s hard not to revert to surgical metaphors: sharp, incisive, able to cut through the confusion. These aside, over the past year I have come to admire Dr. Chagnon as a true leader. Françoise is always inclusive, consulting widely — a genuine collaborator. She is a good listener and very careful to summarize and consolidate opinion. For me, a classic moment we have shared on a number of occasions comes as she turns to me with that wry smile and a tilt of her head and murmurs “something for you to follow-up.”

Françoise, merci pour votre passion, pour votre curiosité insatiable et, surtout, pour toujours chercher à offrir plus de valeur à nos Associés. En public et en privé, vous faites passer ce thème au premier plan. Vous le faites parfois sans détour, mais il est toujours clair que vous tentez d’améliorer le système et ce que le Collège royal offre aux Associés.

I only hope that I can demonstrate some of that passion and devotion to the [Royal] College that you have shown us over your tenure. A very big thank you and I count on your continued mentorship and advice.

Once again, thank you again, everyone, for this incredible honour and for your support as we take this next step on our journey.

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Incisive and inclusive: fond reflections on immediate Past-President Dr. Françoise Chagnon

Françoise Chagnon, MD, FRCSC, has officially ended her term as Royal College President. She leaves behind an incredible legacy marked in large part by her thoughtful and direct approach to leadership (not to mention her famous dry humour).

“There is no fooling around with [Dr.] Chagnon, when she sets her mind to a task. She can cut to the chase and do it ever so diplomatically,” shared Council member G. Robert LaRoche, MD, FRCSC.

Justin Hall, MD, who served as the resident member of Council from 2017-2019, added “She elevated our conversation, facilitated an inclusive environment, invited contributions from all members, and supported the board to meet our fiduciary, strategic and generative governance roles.”

A number of important initiatives were launched during Dr. Chagnon’s presidency. These include the Royal College’s new strategic plan (and vision), the launch of Competence by Design implementation and new task forces on research, and emerging technologies and artificial intelligence.

“I was impressed by her involvement not just with Council, but in particular with her commitment to the management and organization of the Royal College even before her engagement as President. She came well-qualified with recent experience on the Executive Committee of Council,” said David Allison, MD, FRCPC, who completed his term on Council in February 2019.

Council member John Finley, MDCM, FRCPC, echoed this sentiment saying, “She has a great commitment to excellence in medical education and to the good functioning of the Royal College and its Council. Her calm voice was very appropriate to our deliberations.”

One of Dr. Chagnon’s many achievements was her advocacy and leadership in gaining Council approval to make Indigenous health a mandatory component of postgraduate medical education.

“Her presentations were always thoughtful, with a deep understanding of the issues. She could describe the nuances and complexities without the use of notes,” said Council member J. Mark Walton, MD, FRCSC. He added, “She is an excellent listener and could forge consensus for disparate opinions, often highlighting the art of the compromise.”

Of course, humour also helped.

“Her sense of humor is fantastic,” said Dr. Walton. “Dry, satirical (gentle so) and often brought a nice lightening to discussions, when needed.”

In fact, this light side was on display at the conclusion of Royal College Convocation 2018.

Dr. LaRoche, who carried the Royal College mace at the 2018 ceremony, explained: “At the conclusion of the ceremony, she convinced me to grab the mace and go out there with her in our regalia to meet the new Fellows and their families and kids... letting the little ones get their pictures taken with us and to see their eyes that couldn’t get any bigger in amazement!”

Council member Brian Hodges, MD, PhD, FRCPC, also remarked on her warmth. “[She] is a warm and compassionate surgeon who always foregrounds the needs of patients and of clinical colleagues in considering an issue under discussion. She has challenged the Royal College to look into the future.”

On example of looking ahead was Dr. Chagnon’s leadership with Council in defining the relationship between the Royal College and Royal College International, as part of the organization’s strategic planning and governance review.

Dr. Chagnon’s support for international was significant. One example was her recent meeting with the Tri-nation Alliance to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the Royal College, which formalized the partnership’s agreement to collaborate and participate on matters of postgraduate medical education and lifelong learning.

“In thinking of Françoise, my mind immediately goes to surgical metaphors: sharp, incisive, able to cut through confusion,” said M. Ian Bowmer, MDCM, FRCPC, FRCP, her successor in the role of President. “As a leader, she is very inclusive and consults widely. She is good listener and careful to summarize and consolidate opinion. I always appreciated how she included me in discussions in a totally genuine, collaborative fashion.”

Perhaps Bill Tholl, MA, ICD.D, a public Member of Council, summarized it best:

“As I reflect on Dr. Chagnon’s term, I think about the Sherpas of the Himalayas. Those brave leaders who help navigate the ice crevices, avoid avalanches and keep our eyes on the summit. As the Royal College has navigated the challenges of strategic change, Françoise has been our wise Sherpa by keeping us on track, staying focused on the strategic summit, and encouraging us all to keep moving forward. She’s done a fabulous job!”

Dr. Chagnon will continue to serve in the role of immediate Past-President throughout 2019-2020. Among other contributions, she is leading the search for the Royal College’s next chief executive officer who will replace Dr. Padmos when he retires on December 31, 2019.

  1. Dr. Chagnon with Past-President Kevin Imrie, MD, FRCPC, at the beginning of her term as President (February 2017)
  2. Dr. Chagnon at Royal College Convocation 2018
  3. Dr. Chagnon at the Tri-Nation Alliance partnership signing
  4. Dr. Chagnon at the February 2019 Council meeting
  5. Dr. Chagnon’s official portrait (February 2019)
  6. Dr. Chagnon and Dr. Bowmer at the Council dinner (February 2019)

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Easing the transition from medical school to residency in Mexico

Photo by Jorge Aguilar on Unsplash

Dr. Linda Snell presenting at IMELF- MCC

“The concern in Mexico, in particular, is the transition from the end of medical school to the beginning of residency. It is important that students have the skills needed to start residency,” said Linda Snell, MD, FRCPC, a professor of Medicine and core faculty member at the McGill Centre for Medical Education; and a senior clinician educator with the Royal College.

Dr. Snell was in Monterrey, Mexico, in December 2018 to present at the first ever International Medical Education Leaders Forum for the regions of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (IMELF-MCC). The meeting was hosted by the Royal College in partnership with the Tecnologico de Monterrey School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The meeting focused on the competence profile of students entering residency training — even more challenging in Mexico as medical school curricula and training vary across the country. IMELF-MCC brought together medical education leaders from Mexico and nearby regions to identify tools and strategies that could help facilitate preparation for this transition.

Canadian tactics to ease transition to residency: EPAs, national standards

Dr. Snell provided attendees of IMELF-MCC with a Canadian perspective. She described how a set of Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) could facilitate the transition between medical school and residency, and helps to alleviate students’ anxieties in the early stages of residency training.

“These core EPAs define expectations for new graduates across the country entering residency programs. Medical students will be directly observed and supervised prior to graduation to ensure their readiness for indirect supervision as a resident.”

Dr. Snell also recommended the adoption of national standards and frameworks, adapted to the Mexican context.

“Given that residents in Mexico come from many medical schools, some of which are not accredited, they enter with totally different backgrounds and skills. It makes a lot more sense — and I think it would be a lot more successful — if there was a national accreditation program that all medical schools and residency programs went through, that utilized global or national standards, and a competency framework such as CanMEDS. The framework may need some slight modifications; however, it has worked well in Canada and over 50 other jurisdictions around the world, and it is already available in Spanish.”

Partner perspective: Silvia Lizett Olivares Olivares

“It was nice to know how Canadians educate residency students and how they consider the different approaches. It is important for us to have competency approaches that enable us to review behaviors such as professionalism, human sense, communication and other soft skills. I believe that if we could use some of the approaches that were discussed, with a formal process for the selection of students entering residency programs, then I think this would be the most valuable asset that we could take away from this meeting.”

Dr. Silvia Lizett Olivares Olivares, academic dean of Tecnologico de Monterrey School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Coordinator of the IMELF-MCC

Recent activities in Mexico

“One of the Royal College's strategic goals is to establish relations with global partners and to assist them in building their capacity to provide specialty medical education and to create their own sustainable health care system,” said Oscar Casiró, MD, FRCPC, regional director for Latin America, Royal College International.

He added, “Our collaboration with the Tecnologico de Monterrey School of Medicine and Health Sciences continues to be productive. Two recent activities are annual leadership workshops for residents and educational workshops for residency program directors, delivered by Royal College faculty in Monterrey. IMELF-MCC exemplifies one of the positive outcomes of this growing relationship.”

IMELF -MCC is part of our ongoing series of regionally hosted IMELF meetings, tailored to the local context. Learn more about IMELF on our website.

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Highlights from Council (February 2019)

We’re pleased to share with you highlights from the February 21-22, 2019, Council meeting.

Change in Council leadership

At the February meeting, M. Ian Bowmer, MDCM, FRCPC, FRCP, FCAHS, was ushered in as President of the Royal College. Françoise Chagnon, MDCM, FRCSC, FACS, was installed as Immediate Past-President. Council has been enriched by the participation of both of these distinguished specialists. The Royal College looks forward to working with them in their new roles.

Reflecting the changing scope of practice of health professionals

Since 2013, the Royal College has captured the roles, activities and services of health professionals in a scope of practice statement entitled, Ensuring safe, high quality care: managing evolving scopes of practice of all health professionals.

As it is important to ensure the Royal College’s position reflects the evolving roles of health professionals, Council was satisfied to approve a revised Royal College position statement that includes expanded attention to the interests of the public and patients.

Task Force on Research – final report

The Royal College Council Task Force on Research, struck two years ago, presented its final report to Council. The task force was chaired by Brian Hodges, MD, PhD, FRCPC, and involved the efforts of over 30 Fellows. The group took a comprehensive reading of the Royal College’s research activities and provided a number of recommendations as to how the Royal College can position itself going forward. Council accepted the final task force report at its meeting. It is now looking to Royal College management to translate the report into business and implementation plans, for further consideration.

Competence by Design – program evaluation

Elaine Van Melle, PhD, MEd, MHSc, provided Council with an overview of the role of program evaluation in relation to Competence by Design (CBD) implementation.

She explained that

  • program evaluation is about managing change over time; and
  • the application of program evaluation will assist the Royal College, faculties of medicine and individual residency training programs in steering towards the long-term CBD implementation goal of enhanced patient care outcomes.

Council was pleased to be briefed on CBD program evaluation efforts. They advised Dr. Van Melle and the CBD Leadership Team that distilling the ethos of CBD into practical terms of what it means for clinicians, faculty and learners, will be critical to CBD’s success.

Routes to certification

Council agreed to phase out the Jurisdiction Approved Route to Royal College Certification by the end of 2022. The Jurisdiction Approved Route provides an avenue for specialists trained abroad, in any one of 29 colleges, to have a route to examination eligibility and certification. The Jurisdiction Approved Route is no longer viewed as a reliable or valid route to Royal College certification. Leading up to 2022, the Royal College will work with medical regulatory authorities and other stakeholders to develop the Practice Eligibility Route to ensure a more satisfactory certification route is in place for specialists trained abroad.

Oversight of Royal College fiscal matters

  • At the Annual Meeting of the Members, an annual membership fee of $960 for the year running April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020, was approved.
  • Council approved the annual operating, capital and employee retirement plan budgets.

The next Royal College Council meeting will take place June 20-21, 2019, in Ottawa. Questions relating to Council activities can be directed to

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Meet your new Council members

At the Annual Meeting of the Members in February, we welcomed 13 Council members to a new term — nine of whom are joining Council for the first time.

Please join us in welcoming these new voices to the table:

  • Randolph Guzman, MD, FRCSC
  • Roy Kirkpatrick, MD, FRCSC
  • Kara Laing, MD, FRCPC
  • Thomas Maniatis, MD, FRCPC
  • Tom McLaughlin, MD, FRCPC
  • Mary Wells, MD, FRCSC
  • Cliff Yaffe, MD, FRCSC
  • Major-General Jean-Robert Bernier, MD, FRCPSC (Hon)
  • Stéphanie Dufour, MDCM

End of term for nine Council members

These new Council members replace nine members who completed their service on Council this February:

  • David Allison, MD, FRCPC
  • Brian Clapson, MD, FRCSC
  • Robin Cox, MD, FRCPC
  • Justin Hall, MD
  • BJ Hancock, MD, FRCSC
  • Amy Nakajima, MD, FRCSC
  • James O’Brien, MD, FRCSC
  • Donald Palisaitis, MD, FRCPC
  • Trudy Reid, MHA

Council took time during their February meeting to recognize the dedication of these Council members to fulfilling the mission and vision of the Royal College on behalf of the Fellowship and the public. Their terms saw the development of the strategic plan 2018-2020, the continued implementation of Competence by Design (CBD), a review of the governance model of Royal College International, as well as the Council decision, in October 2017, that Indigenous health be integrated as “a mandatory component of postgraduate medical education, including curriculum, assessment and accreditation.”

New members of Council will carry forward the multi-year efforts initiated by these past members of Council, including the integration of Indigenous health and the continued rollout and evaluation of CBD, as more disciplines launch (including an additional 12 this July).

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Dr. Emil’s dispatches from Guinea

“When I was six years old, my parents moved to Nigeria, not far from where I am now, to deliver medical care to the underserved, many of whom had never seen a physician before. My father was an orthopedic surgeon, but his surgical fundamentals also made him a general surgeon, a urologist and a plastic surgeon, among many other disciplines. My mother, a family doctor, served as the hospital’s pediatrician, obstetrician and ‘hospitalist’ long before there was such a word.

I love my practice in Montreal but I also know that I practice in an environment where I am, fortunately, dispensable. While I am in Africa, our pediatric surgery service in Montreal will run just as well and provide just as good care. My parents were indispensable – typically the only barrier between the patient and a very poor outcome. Sadly, that remains much of the situation here in Guinea and in much of Africa today….”

Excerpt from “Dispatch # 1- The Other Side of the World” - Sherif Emil, MDCM, FRCSC

From March 5-22, 2019, we posted dispatches from pediatric surgeon, Sherif Emil, MDCM, FRCSC, and UT Health San Antonio surgery resident Dr. Kathryn LaRusso, on our Facebook page. They shared about their experiences with the humanitarian organization Mercy Ships.

Catch up on the posts by visiting Once signed in, click #DispatchesfromMercy to see them all. You can also watch their Facebook Live video, where they answered live questions about what it’s like to perform surgery on a ship.

Tell us your story!

We are always on the lookout for Fellow stories!

We would love to partner with you to profile your

  • great career accomplishment(s),
  • interesting pathway into medicine/specialty, or
  • other unique professional experience(s).

Contact us at with the subject line “I have a great story to tell.”

If your story is a fit, we’ll feature you in an upcoming Royal College news item.

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Members in the news

Doctor walking down a hospital hallway

"The big advantage is you're able to pre-plan the patient's surgery on a 3D model in the OR," Anthony Adili, MD, FRCSC (“Knee replacement surgery performed with a robot for the first time in Canada,” CBC News).

"Some of his respiratory symptoms could be exacerbated by mould but all of his symptoms can't be explained by mould," Anna Banerji, MD, FRCPC (“Manitoba parents believe mould poisoned their dying son; doctor says it's more complicated,” CBC News).

“The parents feel less isolated when they have a diagnosis,” Geneviève Bernard, MD, FRCPC (“Un bébé atteint d’une maladie rare a fait avancer la science, disent des chercheurs,“ La Tribune).

“To get a (medical) idea to a final product is extremely complicated and the hurdles are very high,” Joao De Rezende-Neto, MD FRCSC (“Doctors moonlighting as inventors face unique hurdles to commercialization,” The Province).

“Our health-care system must pledge to overcome its inertia and engage decision-makers and community stakeholders to ensure that all Canadians have equitable access to quality services that support their wishes as they approach the end-of-life,” Paul Hébert, MD, FRCPC, and George Heckman, MD, FRCPC (“Drs. Paul Hébert and George Heckman: As doctors, we see death made more painful daily by poor advance care planning,” The Province).

“If he had not known about that, if it had not been picked up with an ultrasound to screen, he probably would have ruptured and chances are he probably would have died,” Varun Kapila, MD, FRCSC (“Abdominal aortic aneurysms a 'big messy preventable problem': surgeon,” CTV News).

“Some women will have no pain but problems getting pregnant. Some women will have a lot of pain but no problems getting pregnant, and then some women can have everything,” Fady Mansour, MD, FRCSC (“Endometriosis: Creating community through pain,” CBC News).

“It’s so important to have a number of treatment options because there’s no one-size-fits-all for turning the tide on the opioid crisis,” Seonaid Nolan, MBChB, FRCPC (“Physicians to try six-month implant treatment to treat addiction to opioids,” Vancouver Sun).

“It is time to close the gaps for women in medicine. It is time to speak out against the biases that adversely affect physicians and our patients,” Gigi Osler, MD, FRCSC (“Opinion: Women have equality in numbers in medicine, but not equity,” Montreal Gazette).

“Jasmine Gitego presented with an episode of terminal heart failure, if we didn’t implant the mechanical heart, she would have died,” Mario Sénéchal, MD, FRCPC (”Boissons énergisantes : un cœur mécanique à 27 ans,” ICI Québec – Radio-Canada).

“I was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a cancerous brain tumour that advances fast,” Paul Whelan, MD, FRCSC (“When the doctor becomes the patient,” Times Colonist).

Our congratulations

Saroj Saigal, MBBS, FRCPC, was named the recipient for 2018 of the Virginia Apgar Award by the American Academy of Paediatrics.

Three Fellows have been newly named members of the Order of Canada: Hélène Boisjoly, CM, MD, FRCSC; Thomas Dignan, CM, FRCPSC (Hon), OOnt; and Ross D. Feldman, CM, MD, FRCPC.

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In memoriam


Nural Alam, MBBS, FRCPC, died on January 26, 2019, in Toronto, Ont., at age 85. Dr. Alam was certified by the Royal College in Psychiatry in 1976.

Ali Al-Beer, MD, FRCSC, died on January 23, 2019, in Oshawa, Ont., at age 49. Dr. Al-Beer was certified by the Royal College in Orthopedic Surgery in 2010. At the time of his tragic death, he worked at the Ross Memoriam Hospital in Lindsey, Ont. Read more about Dr. Al-Beer.

Brijesh Arya, MBBS, FRCPC, died on January 5, 2019, in Stoney Creek, Ont., at age 61. Dr. Arya was certified by the Royal College in Anesthesiology in 1990. He is remembered as a kind and generous individual. Read more about Dr. Arya.

Stuart Benson Bruce, MDCM, FRCSC, died on December 26, 2018, in London, Ont., at age 90. Dr. Bruce was certified by the Royal College in Ophthalmology in 1964. A graduate of Queen’s University, and did some additional specialist training at Harvard University. Read more about Dr. Bruce.

Romulus Peter Carere, MD, FRCPC, died on January 10, 2019, in Guelph, Ont., at age 92. Dr. Carere was certified by the Royal College in Internal Medicine in 1969. He practised medicine, serving the community in Guelph, for 50 years. Read more about Dr. Carere.

Jean Yves Gosselin, MD, FRCPC, died on January 8, 2019, in Ottawa, Ont., at age 89. Dr. Gosselin was certified by the Royal College in Psychiatry in 1959. For 10 years, he served on the Royal College’s Psychiatry Examination Board. Read more about Dr. Gosselin.

Leo Richard “Rick” Haber, MD, FRCPC, died on February 7, 2019, in Cozumel, Mexico, at age 76. Dr. Haber was certified by the Royal College in Pediatrics in 1976. For more than 35 years, he served as a devoted pediatrician in Montreal. In 2017, he sat on the Royal College’s Pediatrics Examination Board. Read more about Dr. Haber.

Salvatore Mallia, MD, FRCPC, died on February 5, 2019, in Toronto, Ont., at age 66. Dr. Mallia was certified by the Royal College in Psychiatry in 1992. Originally from Sicily, Italy, he journeyed through Africa to learn about tropical medicine before settling in Canada. Read more about Dr. Mallia.

Peter Bruce McGinn, MD, FRCPC, died on December 25, 2018, in Vancouver, B.C., at age 70. Dr. McGinn was certified by the Royal College in Anesthesiology in 1983. He served patients at the Vancouver General Hospital for more than 30 years. Read more about Dr. McGinn.

Neil Douglas Reid, MDCM, FRCPC, died on November 7, 2018, in Belleville, Ont., at age 91. Dr. Reid was certified by the Royal College in Diagnostic Radiology in 1961. While working at the Belleville General Hospital, he played an instrumental role in introducing ultrasound technology to the region. Read more about Dr. Reid.

Maurice St-Laurent, MD, FRCPC, died on November 18, 2018, in Quebec, Que., at age 68. Dr. St-Laurent was certified by the Royal College in Internal Medicine (1979) and Geriatric Medicine (1982). A pioneer in the latter, he was the first to teach Geriatric Medicine at l’Université Laval. Read more about Dr. St-Laurent.


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