President’s Message

Sail with Your COA to the Future

Mark Glazebrook, MD, FRCSC
President, Canadian Orthopaedic Association

Time is flying by, as we approach the end of the year and are well into planning the 2020 Annual Meeting in Halifax, NS. I am happy to report that the COA Board, committees, and staff, along with the membership are all working together and making progress on many of the Association’s projects and initiatives.

First and foremost, preparations are currently underway for the upcoming COA Strategic Retreat. In line with its 75th anniversary, the COA is undergoing an important review, with the aim to analyze its mission and vision, restructure its core values and goals, as well as prioritize support for upcoming changes and new projects. This month, all COA members were contacted to participate in a very brief survey asking for their input, which will greatly assist the Board and steering committee with this process. Your suggestions lead our discussions and I encourage your involvement. Additionally, a cross-section of members representing the diverse COA membership will also participate in a two-day retreat organized by the COA Executive and staff, early in the New Year.

Diversity remains a priority for the COA and our efforts have been recognized by several of the international orthopaedic associations I visited throughout the Fall. This is due to accomplishments such as a publication by Hiemstra et al. revealing current gender statistics in the COA and the importance of strong female role models in leadership positions and on the podium at meetings and conferences. We are continuing this momentum alongside Dr. Pascale Thibaudeau (McGill University) researching maternity and parental leave within the Canadian orthopaedic community. Thank you to our COA members for their active work on these projects. I encourage future involvement of our membership as we pursue initiatives related to all aspects of diversity.

Unfortunately, the orthopaedic manpower dilemma continues to be the COA’s most daunting challenge; many of our surgeons are left unemployed in the face of growing wait times for our patients’ orthopaedic care. Progress has been made by involved COA members through diverse strategies such as exploring job-sharing models of employment, and raising awareness at local and national government.

Your COA continues to monitor the number of unemployed surgeons and resident training positions, and track all progress made in these areas. The Practice Management Committee is working on establishing retirement transition and job-sharing models with Committee Chair, Dr. Greg Clark, along with Drs. Ross Leighton, Nathan Urquhart, Andrew Hayward and I currently soliciting the cooperation of Nova Scotia’s government to establish a framework for more immediate surgeon employment, synchronised with a plan for gradual retirement of senior surgeons. The implementation of this framework within Nova Scotia can also serve more broadly as a blueprint for other orthopaedic surgeons to approach their provincial leaders.

In order to keep moving forward, significant progress requires elevating public awareness that Canada has some of the longest waitlists for orthopaedic care among the developed nations, yet paradoxically has a high number of unemployed surgeons largely due to a lack of government resources. The COA is working with affiliate stakeholder organizations on rolling out public awareness initiatives into the next year.

Addressing the orthopaedic manpower dilemma requires innovations in multiple areas, including patient care, resource allocation, and private care. The COA Executive realizes that this issue has no quick fix and can’t expect to be resolved during my mandate, but calls upon the engagement of the COA membership to reach solutions faster. Please get involved in your Association’s fight to improve the orthopaedic speciality in Canada by reaching out to policy@canorth.org.

Finally, I urge all COA members to mark your calendars and come sail with your COA to Halifax for the Annual Meeting, June 3-6, 2020. The upcoming Meeting promises to be an innovative experience, including additional interaction opportunities with industry representatives during specialized lunchtime sessions. Further, the heart of your COA’s success will be in full swing with academic and community educators highlighted in the scientific program under the direction of the 2020 Program Co-chairs, Drs. Glen Richardson and Ivan Wong. Dr. Chad & Ms. Jodi Coles are busy assuring the Meeting represents a true maritime experience featuring East Coast music and lobster on the beautiful Halifax waterfront!  Registration opens in the New Year and we can’t wait to see you next June.