Dr. Shannon Prud’homme’s Presidential Address

dr prudhomme at the podiumWelcome and Good Evening!

Dr. Osler, thank you very much for being a part of this wonderful evening. I heard your presentation, “Medical Women: Take Your Own Leadership Journey” at the Federation of Medical Women of Canada AGM last September made quite the impact. We all wish the first female surgeon to serve as the Canadian Medical Association President, and a Manitoban to boot, the greatest success as you embark on your journey as President of the CMA this August.

Now a few words about Dr. Aaron Chiu…under Aaron’s stewardship, Doctors Manitoba had an excellent year – a year that included the launch of our 2017-2020 strategic plan. One reason for the ongoing success of Doctors Manitoba has been the outstanding quality of people at the helm…although I won’t start naming names, there have been superb Presidents in our organization’s rich 110 year history. And Aaron is certainly among them. He has served with absolute distinction. Aaron, you’ll also be an invaluable sounding board during my tenure in this new role. The University of Manitoba’s profile of Aaron fits the bill: “Born to care, trained to lead.” Thank you again Aaron for a fantastic year.

On this occasion, I especially want to welcome Theresa Oswald as our new CEO. It was her team leadership record and in-depth knowledge of the province’s health-care system and its issues that tipped the scales in her favour. In addition and in her own words: “Some of the most important times in my life have happened at the elbow of a physician…the birth of my son, the loss of both my parents, plus some palliative-care journeys that I’ve been on.”

I imagine that we’re in for a great ride with Theresa if a certain much talked about sign outside one of her offices is any indication; it quotes the American historian – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. The sign reads: “Well behaved women rarely make history.” Also along for the ride are Allison Crolly, Matt Maruca, Rick Sawyer and the entire Manitoba staff who are ready for another trailblazing year ahead.

prud'homme and oslerI am excited and eager to lead Doctors Manitoba as your president. Amid the greatest upheaval to Manitoba’s health-care system in at least two decades, we as physicians face many challenges, but also have an unprecedented opportunity to shape the future for our profession, our patients and all of health care for years to come.

The profession of medicine is an exquisite calling. We all know it can be grueling, taxing, and at times heart wrenching and humbling. But it is also stimulating, enriching, and profoundly rewarding. To practice medicine requires scientific mastery, inquisitiveness, vigilance, and compassion. It also requires analytical reasoning, sensitivity, sometimes humour and sometimes solemnity. Every physician here and all of those out there carry these skills and mete them out quietly, in measured ways, working diligently, serving the patients that we care for. Through the course of the coming year and into the future, I look forward to working with each and every one of you!

Let me begin now, by recognizing the people who helped pave the way for me being on this stage tonight. First, I want to thank my Doctors Manitoba board colleagues – for their leadership, their mentoring and their friendship. We have the strongest and most diverse board I can recall – an inclusive board that will continue to raise the bar in all its endeavours. I also wish to thank many physicians and stakeholders in the room for their support and advocacy over the years – you know who you are.

Next – my most sincere gratitude to the entire Treherne team. If it weren’t for their willingness to encourage and support me over the years, I would not be in this position. I practice in a close collegial relationship where we look after our in-patients together, review challenging cases and avoid working in isolation. I cannot adequately express my appreciation to Drs. Alewyn Vorster and James MacTavish, who have supported me in both my practice and my leadership responsibilities.

Now, please indulge me as I recognize my wonderful family. I begin with my parents, Elizabeth and Jerry…your pride is showing tonight – please know that your unwavering support throughout my life is precious to me. You are my champions and biggest fans! I am delighted that my wonderful brother and sister-in-law have also joined us this evening – this event is a family affair!

If we fast forward to May 2019, I hope that my presidency will be associated with unity and team leadership for Doctors Manitoba. In my mind, team leadership embodies the heart of our values: unity, influence, foresight and professionalism. Simply put, we are stronger together.

Team leadership is modeling the behaviours we need from others; working constructively and in collaboration; developing solutions by consensus; improving care by drawing on the skills of each other and exhibiting integrity, respect and compassion in our interaction with others.

As the representative of Manitoba’s physicians, the success of Doctors Manitoba hinges on strong team leadership: We lead the way by pushing the envelope on the issues that physicians and their patients uniquely understand and developing solutions to improve the quality and delivery of health care in this province. We lead the way by listening to, supporting and empowering physicians and medical students in their quest to provide superior patient care. And we lead the way in bringing life to our mission and values through our five strategic goals: 1) member engagement; 2) physician health and wellness; 3) remuneration and benefits; 4) advocacy and innovation and 5) organizational capacity and leadership.

These tenets demonstrate our cohesive commitment to helping physicians grow professionally, solving physician workflow needs and enhancing the practice environment. I am passionate about this work, as with the right direction and tools, we will be better equipped to give better patient care. And being able to provide better care restores joy to the practice of medicine.

When I speak to student and resident groups, I urge them to be engaged with relevant professional organizations – especially Doctors Manitoba. Why? Mainly because physicians need to champion one another more than ever before. Our network of professional support is a vital ingredient in the antidote to burnout. We lift one another up during trying times and embolden one another to be our imperfect best while developing the vigilance to learn from our experiences. When it comes to inspiring and mentoring others in our profession, look to Doctors Manitoba.

Last summer, I had the privilege of representing Doctors Manitoba at the Canada Games – I learned a great deal about the obvious parallels of team leadership. Just like the Canada Games stimulates investment in young athletes, in coaching programs and in sporting venues, Doctors Manitoba promotes investment in our physicians, residents and student members – to propel peak performance.

Like the legacy of the Canada Games, Doctors Manitoba is working hard to provide a legacy of financial stability and professional development (through negotiations with government) – to support the physicians that will follow in our footsteps.

And like the Canada Games, this evening is a celebration of excellence. I want to congratulate all of our very deserving award recipients as we celebrate their dedication to the profession.

Tonight, I encourage each of you, and re-dedicate myself, to be the team leaders that our patients, our practices, our hospitals, and our profession need us to be. Let us be the team leaders who bring consensus solutions to difficult issues in an imperfect world. Let us be the team leaders with the innovation and drive to shape the future of medicine in an imperfect world. Let us be the team leaders who mentor our next generation of physicians in an imperfect world.

I want to echo the words of Dr. Joanne Liu, the Canadian pediatrician and current International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders): “I have worked in the most modern medical facilities and in the most challenging war zones and epidemics; in world-class emergency rooms, and in isolated, forsaken refugee camps…and we try to give people our best. It is through action based on need and nothing else that we confront the imperfections of our world. By giving. Not always perfectly, but by giving nonetheless.”

Thank you very much, we are going to have a great year… and… Go Jets Go!