In this week’s message you will find:

Message from the President

I am sending this message to check in, because this fall is already feeling busy and overwhelming. 

Let me start on a personal level. After avoiding COVID for 1,000 days, I finally got infected earlier this month. It hit me hard. Yes, the symptoms were not pleasant, but milder than they could have been without vaccination. Missing work for several days certainly has a financial impact, but that was thankfully lessened greatly thanks to the Doctors Manitoba Physician Isolation Benefit.

What hit me the hardest was the feeling of guilt. 

I felt guilty cancelling scores of in-person patient appointments. I felt guilty for all the work my colleagues and reception staff had to do to cover and reschedule my patients. I felt guilty about the prospect of some of my patients feeling they had to seek care elsewhere, perhaps at an Emergency Department that was already overwhelmed. 

I’ve heard from many of you who have felt guilty lately too. For some, it’s about missing work due to COVID. For others, it’s feeling guilty about saying no to picking up that 3rd or 4th extra shift this week, or for the unreasonably long wait times your patients experienced before finally seeing you. 

We have a survey out right now with physicians about what you are concerned about. With over 400 responses in so far, the preliminary results show that 93% of physicians are concerned about our hospitals being overwhelmed this fall or winter. Many physicians are concerned about their community practice, and across the profession, more than 90% are concerned about the health and well-being of Manitobans. You can still add your voice here.

As I reflect on these results and hear stories from colleagues who are increasingly distressed about the challenges in health care right now, I want to ask all of you to respond to these pressures with your own well-being in mind. 

This fall and winter could shape up to rival the challenges from the last few years. In the months ahead, I imagine most physicians will find themselves under tremendous pressure to work more and to stretch themselves even thinner. Before you rush to say yes to these requests every single time, please ensure you stop and consider the right balance between responding to that pressure from leadership and having the time you need away from work. 

Also, please remember that Doctors Manitoba is with you every step of the way. The Doctors Manitoba Physician Isolation Benefit continues to be available to physicians who need it. We are pressing for more transparency about health system contingency plans. And we are working with health system leaders on solutions to the many systemic and institutional causes of physician burnout, such as administrative burdens, poor communication and engagement, and unreasonable on-call and workload demands. 

Please keep our Physician Health programs in mind, whether for you, a family member or a colleague who may find themselves in need. You can learn more about physician health services and find their direct confidential contact information here.

Finally, I want to pass on my gratitude to each and every one of you. I continue to be inspired by the dedication of physicians and medical learners to ensuring Manitobans get the care they need.

Addressing the Physician Shortage

Recommendations to Recruit and Retain More Physicians

Today, we released a series of recommendations, in partnership with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, to address the physician shortages in rural, Northern and Indigenous communities. This incorporates advice from the Rural Health Summit we held last month in Portage, extensive research into promising practices from other jurisdictions, and further consultation with over 450 physicians, residents, and students as well as health system, community, and business leaders. 

Our President Dr. Candace Bradshaw explained that​“it must be a top priority to recruit and retain more doctors, and this is going to require an​‘all-hands’ approach if Manitoba is going to succeed in an intensely competitive national and global environment. We owe it to Manitobans to work together to get them the care they need close to home.”

At the event, Manitoba Chambers CEO and President Chuck Davidson spoke about why his organization is focusing on this issue. He noted that health care is now the top concern among their members. He also explained that there is a direct correlation between a community’s level of physician care, and that community’s economic potential and long-term sustainability. Manitoba’s ability to recruit and retain more doctors will be an important contributor to our future economy.”

Our joint report includes five recommendations with many supporting actions to recruit and retain more doctors. This includes:

  1. Recruiting more physicians by expanding training, streamlining recruitment efforts, and identifying financial supports for transition to practice.
  2. Finding efficiencies to free up physicians’ time for more patient care, including by making it easier for physicians to consult other physicians to guide care.
  3. Addressing physician burnout, the single biggest risk to physicians leaving practice, by reducing the administrative burden, reviewing on-call expectations, and improving physician engagement.
  4. Retaining physicians in practice for longer with better peer support and mentorship, assisting with physician infrastructure costs, and enhancing the physician retention program.
  5. Supporting the important role local communities and chambers of commerce can play in recruiting and retaining physicians and their families.

The report has been submitted to the Minister of Health for the government’s consideration. The Minister attended our Summit and has expressed a lot of interest in our recommendations. 

You can view the report here.

Our report is already garnering strong news coverage today. Read more about it:

Spotlight on Physician Shortage

Earlier this week, we released a major report about the physician shortage, which attracted a lot of media attention (see Free Press story, for example). Drawing on a variety of local and national data, the report found that Manitoba has one of the lowest number of physicians per capita in the country. Over the last 20 years, in fact, Manitoba had the smallest increase in physicians per capita in the country.

In reviewing the current state and looking forward, our report also projects how the physician shortage could deteriorate further without an intervention:

  • Over the last four years, the number of physicians retiring each year has more than doubled.
  • Two thirds of physicians are experiencing distress and half are experiencing high levels of burnout.
  • In the next three years, 43% of physicians are planning on retiring, leaving Manitoba, or reducing their clinical hours. 

A full copy of the Physicians in Manitoba report is available here.

COVID Updates

COVID Surveillance Update
Public Health posts weekly COVID-19 Surveillance Reports on Thursdays. This week’s report covers the week ending October 22 and shows similar activity compared to last week. Highlights include:

  • Severe outcomes from COVID-19 are remain high. There were 100 hospital admissions, down from 103 last week. This includes 16 ICU admissions, up from 14 last week. Weekly hospital admissions last peaked at 264 in the week ending April 16.
  • There were 8 deaths recorded, up from 6 last week. There have now been 2,211 deaths related to COVID-19.
  • There were 362 lab-confirmed cases reported in Manitoba over the last week, down from 402 last week.
  • The test positivity rate was 24%, down from 29.6 % last week.

The updated wastewater surveillance dashboard for Winnipeg is showing continued sharp increases in two of three sites monitored, and a significant increase in Brandon. 

As people move more activities indoors with fall and winter weather arriving, and respiratory viruses start circulating more broadly, experts are predicting COVID circulation to increase. This is leading to renewed calls for people to get their COVID booster shot and flu shot, to stay home when they are ill, and to consider masking when in poorly ventilated or crowded areas.

New CBTm* Courses Added

The next set of *Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with mindfulness (CBTm) classes for Physicians and Medical Learners will begin on Thursday, January 19. The classes will run for 5 consecutive Thursdays from 6:00 – 7:30pm, ending on February 16.

The next CBTm 10-session workshop will begin on Tuesday, January 24 and end on March 28, also from 6:00 – 7:30pm.

You can opt to participate in an online self-directed course with five modules, mirroring the facilitator-led classes but offering more scheduling flexibility. 

Registration is open now. Learn more.

CMA Leadership Courses

All physicians are seen as leaders, and it’s never too early to start developing the needed skills. The Canadian Medical Association’s Leadership Essentials are free, open and accredited courses you can complete in an hour. These on-demand courses cover topics that set the foundation for a successful career in any specialty or practice. Learn more and enroll here.

Fantastic Physicians

Congratulations to medical student, Emelissa Valcourt for winning the 2022 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Award! The honour goes to one second-year student at each Canadian medical school who has an established track record of community leadership, a demonstrated interest in advancing knowledge and superior communication skills.

Health in the News

Here are some recent news stories we have curated for physicians and medical learners. 

DRMB in the News

Health System News


Here are some important and popular recent updates, in case you missed them:

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events are always listed on our events calendar.

Featured Events

Only FIVE Spots left in our Inclusive Leadership Workshop — November 1 — 6:30pm

Leadership has a measurable impact on the wellness and satisfaction of teams. So, too, does a physicians’ experience of equity and inclusion. Doctors Manitoba and the University of Manitoba, Office of Leadership Education for Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, are continuing their Joint Leadership Education Series to support physician leadership pathways that benefit everyone. 

In this interactive, 90 minute workshop, participants will begin to learn, understand, and converse on leadership through an inclusive lens. In a crisis (and far too often healthcare and medicine is required to navigate crises), leadership is often driven by a sense of urgency. Leaders find themselves looking inward with a narrow focus and surrounding themselves with those who share similar values and ideas. This session will explore how to maintain inclusive leadership and create an environment that fosters inclusion throughout a crisis. The workshop will delve into three components that are rooted in constructive tensions that inclusive leaders can leverage to bring balance, predictability, and moderation to their teams and organization.

Raising Awareness — Avoiding Unauthorized Health Products Online — Five Session Options in November.

This webinar is intended to increase awareness of the prevalence of unauthorized and/​or adulterated health products in the online market place. This webinar will also provide resources to health care professionals in order to guide patients to legitimate sources of compliant health products.

Other Events