Q&A with Dr. Cory Baillie
Written by Robin Summerfield
Dr. Cory Baillie’s professional life is all about helping patients live without chronic pain and inflammation. The 47-year-old Saskatoon native is a rheumatologist with busy practice at the Manitoba Clinic. For the past four years, he has also served as the University of Manitoba Rheumatology residency program director. At the beginning of July, he will step down from that role so he can focus on his new position as president-elect of Doctors Manitoba. We wanted to get to know him better and with that in mind, we asked him a few questions.
What drew you to rheumatology? Why do you like this specialty?
As I was entering my rheumatology residency, we were just entering the era of biologic therapies in rheumatology. It has been exciting to see the immense changes we have been able to make on the lives of those with rheumatic diseases that previously had been refractory to all therapies.
I also had some excellent mentors at University of Saskatchewan who were staff rheumatologists while I was making decisions about my career. (Dr. Baillie will attend his 25-year medical school reunion in June in Saskatoon.) They definitely aided me in my choice of subspecialty. That’s why I feel that the Doctors Manitoba Mentorship Program is so valuable. The insights and wisdom of experience that mentors can provide to their more junior colleagues can be invaluable in helping provide guidance regarding some very important career and life decisions.
What do you love about being a physician?
There’s no better feeling than the reward of seeing someone who was just diagnosed with a new rheumatic disease, who had been having difficulty with even basic functioning, returning for follow up, and they feel like their life has been given back to them, because they feel so improved.
What do you find most challenging about being a physician?
As rheumatologists, we most frequently deal with chronic diseases. Although our treatments have become markedly better during the 20 years that I have been in practice, complete disease remission is still an unmet goal for most of our patients. The challenge of being unable to meet our patient’s expectations is one we face daily, and yet doesn’t become any easier.
If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be doing?
If Kevin Cheveldayoff’s job ever becomes available I’d love to try my hand as GM for the Jets. Seriously though, I considered public administration and economics during my undergrad years at U of S, so I might have pursued something in either of those fields.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy staying active. Golfing, curling and going to the gym. In summers, I love getting away to our cottage at Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park. In the winter, you’ll find me at Bell MTS Centre cheering on the Jets. This season finished about two months too early though.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I won a coveted blue jacket as a member of the 2004 Canadian Medical Curling Bonspiel championship team.
What are you passionate about?
I truly enjoy having the opportunity to share my experience with junior colleagues like medical students and residents. As I enter the back nine of my medical career, I am energized by being able to teach from my successes and failures with students and residents.
What’s your favourite place in the world to visit and why?
We love going to new places, experiencing different cultures and having great food and wine while we do. We’ve (with his wife Leah, a periodontist) just returned from a trip to Japan for cherry blossom season. Fantastic! We’ve enjoyed all of our vacation travels but I’d probably say that Paris is my favourite .
Who do you admire the most?
I admire those who face up to a challenge with hard work and perseverance.
What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the profession of medicine right now?
I think technology will change the practice of medicine beyond anyone’s current imagination. We have seen disruption of so many industries by the digital revolution. Health care has been only minimally affected to date, but artificial intelligence and virtual medicine will transform both the practice of medicine and the expectations of health care consumers. I’m proud that both Doctors Manitoba and the CMA have been taking a leadership role in learning and educating about how this will result in change for physicians and their patients.
What places would you like to visit that you haven’t visited yet?
I’ve wanted to visit both China and Russia for some time.
Why has it been important for you to have a role at Doctors Manitoba?
It’s important for me as a physician to know that I have a united organization that’s advocating on behalf of the profession so that we can best serve our patients and communities. I’m very proud that my colleagues have entrusted me to serve in a leadership role. In addition, however perhaps selfishly, my work with Doctors Manitoba contributes to my own personal physician wellness. I enjoy that my work on the Board of Directors gives me the opportunity to exercise a different part of my brain compared to my day to day clinical medicine work.