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Message from the Department Head

Dr. Richard Leigh

Dr. Richard Leigh, Zone Clinical & Academic Department Head

Medicine is often considered to be the classic example of a profession. The term Professionalism embraces a set of attitudes, skills, behaviours, attributes and values which are expected from those to whom society has extended the privilege of being considered a professional. All definitions of medical professionalism include 3 elements:

  • A physician has mastered a body of knowledge and skills, and this knowledge and training is to be used in the service of others
  • Physicians will uphold the highest standards of ethical and professional behaviour in all their actions and activities, based on the core values of Honesty, Integrity, Respect and Accountability
  • The practice of medicine involves a contract of trust between patient and doctor – a social (moral) contract termed a fiduciary relationship.

It’s that second point that I want to focus on; not infrequently, I hear reports of physicians within the Department of Medicine being disrespectful towards their colleagues, learners, allied healthcare professionals, and to administrative and support staff. The nursing and clerical staff in our clinics, the administrative staff in our offices and the management team within the Department of Medicine invariably do their best to accommodate our various nuances in behaviour and our sometimes unique requests of them.
 
I recently attended the Department’s Administrative Professionals Lunch on April 24 (coinciding with Administrative Professionals Day), and I was hugely impressed by the enthusiasm these individuals – who, as their title indicates, are also bound by the core values of professionalism – have to our collective mandate of patient care and the academic mission. Their commitment to be part of a collective healthcare team is refreshing, and it therefore disheartens me when I hear occasional reports of faculty members being disrespectful, or outright rude to their administrative staff.
 
Similarly, the Internal Medicine Residency Program (IMRP) and sub-specialty program administrative staff, do a terrific job of running our outstanding residency training programs, especially with the increased work pressure relating to the roll-out of CBME. You’ll never hear them criticize a physician, and it is then difficult to understand why some physicians are rude in response to a legitimate request to complete an outstanding resident evaluation.
 
The same applies with our management team that oversees contracts and AMHSP payments. In 16 years as an AMHSP member, I’ve never not been paid; there may have been two instances in that time when payments were delayed by 24 h, due to system issues beyond Departmental control – and yet some physicians feel the need to unload on our Finance Team when payments are delayed by a day, or contracts take longer to process than anticipated because of our need to obtain multiple signatures.
 
Know that I have zero tolerance for unprofessional behavior on any level – be that towards physician colleagues, allied healthcare professionals, management or administrative and support staff. To borrow an idiom from a local investment counsel firm, ‘Do the right thing’ – be professional in your everyday behavior. This is not something we necessarily inherently acquire upon qualifying from medical school; however professionalism is something that can, and should be learnt. To that end, everyone within the Department was asked to complete Respect in the Workplace Online Training by May 1, 2019. I would like to remind those who have not yet completed one of the following two courses to do so as soon as possible: