Everyday Superhero

November 23, 2020

“I don’t see myself as invincible…I’m just your average ordinary everyday superhero. Trying to save the world, but never really sure.” – Smash Mouth

Something you likely don’t know about me, but I frequently have songs running through my head as I go about my workday. I can’t help it, the applicable lyrics just appear. And as I watched the rising number of COVID-19 cases this past week, Smash Mouth’s “Everyday Superhero” rose to the top – it was either that or the theme song to Rocky. At Doctors of BC, we recognize the many challenges facing our profession in this seemingly endless test of our citizens’ health and wellness. And so as I prepare to pass the President’s torch, I offer these reflections.

Over the last year and a half I have had the honour of engaging, re-invigorating, and helping empower our physician communities across BC. Physicians dedicated to patient care in a system that doesn’t always meet the patient’s needs nor the needs of the physicians, yet who remain tireless in the pursuit of excellence. I have been truly inspired by your resourcefulness and perseverance. Honour is simply not a strong enough word to fully describe the depth of respect and admiration I hold for BC’s physicians. Standing with you as President has been a remarkable opportunity and a responsibility I carried proudly. 

Woman%20doctorI am in awe of the strong yet humble leadership that continues to drive improvement in our healthcare system. I must acknowledge how difficult and challenging this work is, and to echo Smash Mouth’s lyrics – we are not invincible. In fact, just the opposite. Physicians are a great deal like ordinary people doing “just a day job that someone’s gotta do” while we “keep [our] game face on so well.” We carry a heavy responsibility for patient care that, understandably so, can be hard for many non-physicians to fully comprehend. The moral and ethical struggle between providing optimal patient care and managing limited or unrealistic system resources leads to emotional exhaustion and burnout. This conversation was already in the forefront of my 2019 discussions with physicians and our leadership partners.

Enter 2020 and Canada’s inclusion in the global COVID-19 pandemic with too many global losses and societal changes to name. We all felt the added burden and sacrifice in our lives. Loss of family or religious traditions, loss of social connections with friends or family, loss of vacations and personal time. Many of us also lost family or friends who we are still grieving. My family lost an elderly parent in the early stages of the lockdown. No one has been left untouched and yet physicians largely carried on “trying to save the world.”Virtual%20consult

I know it has been consistently difficult to sacrifice so much in this fight, literally laying our lives on the line and risking the lives of our families. I have been working alongside you in the battle. I have been at the early morning emergency planning and strategy meetings, modified my office safety procedures, rapidly shifted my practice to virtual medicine, and delivered mass immunizations in the pouring rain. I have cried the tears of loss and frustration when case numbers rose due to the inaction of others. During my term, I did my best to reach out to you and be there to listen when you reached out to Doctors of BC for advice and support. Together we met and overcame many obstacles in what felt like shifting sand. 

So much has changed and evolved in our practice of medicine this past year. For me, this has been an exceptional opportunity to be a part of our professions’ engagement, strategic planning, and mobilization in the face of a struggling healthcare system and subsequent global pandemic. Physicians continue to demonstrate our irreplaceable role in the planning and delivery of patient care in a truly unprecedented fashion. This isn’t over though. There will be much more to accomplish that we cannot do alone. Doctors of BC needs your voice and your perspective. We need your engagement and we need you to share in the workload in whatever way works for you in your life circumstances. It is critical to our ongoing success. 

As I welcome our new President, Dr Matthew Chow, I can safely rest knowing that Doctors of BC will continue to actively support physicians in BC. I am confident that with your continued engagement, two-way dialogue, and commitment, we will arise from our current crisis with a more sustainable health care system that supports physicians and provides the most accessible and optimal care for patients.

Thank you for your confidence. Your strength has been my strength. We are Better Together.

- Dr Kathleen Ross

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