Dr. Patrick J. (P.J.) White, Psychiatry, Edmonton
I joined the AMA on my second day in Canada in May 1989. Since then, I have been a member of the Representative Forum, sat on the Board of Directors for seven years, and served as president. In my year as president, we began the negotiations that resulted in an agreement two years later.
I believe strongly in the need for a better mental health care system, and I have spent a considerable amount of time in recent years advocating with the government on mental health issues. I am currently the medical director of Alberta Hospital, in which role I am part of a wide-ranging planning exercise to develop and expand services for mental health in conjunction with the Department of Psychiatry, a role important to me as a psychiatrist and as an advocate for a better mental health system.
I think it is essential to be a member of our representative organization where we can all speak with one voice on behalf of physicians and for the sake of a better health care system.
Dr. Richard G.R. Johnston, Critical Care, Anesthesiology, Edmonton
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I am most proud of my 20 years as chair of the Negotiating Committee and on the committees that managed agreements with government and health authorities. We were able to capture the economic value physicians deserved and to direct some of those funds in ways that markedly improved health care, such as after-hours payments, rural/remote/northern payments, and benefits like CME, parental leave, and the Physician and Family Support Program. Money has also been devoted to reducing disparities among groups through differential allocations, in an attempt to ensure that all physicians are appropriately rewarded for their work.
We are the strongest medical association in Canada because we have found ways, through good leadership and professionalism, to have respectful, data-based discussions on both economic and professional issues.
William Osler, the Canadian physician who has had the most influence on the development of modern medicine in this country, wrote on the need for individuals to contribute to the profession. I encourage all physicians to participate in the AMA by carefully reading publications and serving on committees in the AMA, the College, and AHS. It is only through such organizations that we can influence decisions and work to maintain a strong health care system for our patients.