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Looking to the future for the MSA

Umm … What's the MSA?

You know, most of my career has been spent not knowing what the Medical Staff Association (MSA) was. I was just too excited to work, to care for patients, to do research, teach … All the things that we think being a doctor is about. I just didn't think it was my business, so I never even checked.

Sound familiar?

Then, 6 years ago, Chris Ricci, the president of the MSA at the time, ran into me and asked me why I wasn't running for a MSA position.

“Umm, what's the MSA?"

Eye roll.

He told me that it's the organization that represents doctors in the hospital.

I was busy, so I tried to come up with a reason why I couldn't run. But if you know Chris, you know it didn't matter. Soon, I was elected Member-at-Large and started sitting in on Exec meetings of the MSA. Wow!

Imposter syndrome

At the first meeting, I couldn't comprehend what was going on.


Those exist?

They bind me?

Uh oh. I'm supposed to know this?!

I read them (yup, I had to loop back a couple of times) and started to see that wise hospital staff and doctors had spent some effort ensuring that doctors had both rights and responsibilities in the hospital where they worked.

I learned that doctors helped each other, ensured our hospital was top notch, celebrated our accomplishments and reached out to our community. I saw that the MSA was an organization that the hospital executive interacted with to have dialogue with doctors. The hospital was now trying hard to include doctors and I saw that our executive team, led by competent people, was improving the MSA and its relationship with the hospital. For instance, the MSA now interacts with the board, and has secured a standing report to the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC). I have seen the hospital executive look at the MSA and doctors as better partners because of the work of recent MSA leaders like Chris Ricci, Dereck Hunt and Catherine Ross. At each meeting, I realized that the MSA does important work.

Currently, three issues dominate the MSA agenda. The biggest is the pandemic, another is Project Odyssey, and the third is the hospital's efforts to become an organization that fully respects equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).

In each of these areas, the MSA, and by extension all doctors at HHS, can participate. In an age of engagement, activism, and a hunger for improvement, the MSA needs to continue to improve its ability to work with the hospital and to help HHS doctors achieve.

So, where do we go from here?

Well, first, we must ensure that important work is still being done. We still need to update by-laws and review changes that the hospital makes to how we work here (for instance, a new HHS process to follow in case an MD has a professional issue). We need to respond to current events. Over the next year, doctors will determine how Epic is implemented to augment workflow and improve care for our patients. And, we need to improve what we do. We have all seen things we want to correct, improve or initiate in our own spaces and practices.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview the long-service award recipients at HHS – doctors who had worked here for 40 – 45 years. From them, I learned that their satisfaction at work came from going to work with the expectation that they mattered, from a sense that they could make a difference, and from caring to be a part of the organization where they worked. They all took the long view, weathered storms and saw their careers as vehicles of meaningfulness in their lives. Perhaps the MSA can help provide us all opportunities to have similar experiences.

Over the next couple of years, the MSA will need to continue the process of redesigning how it operates. We will encourage new hires to participate in the MSA. We will strike teams to accomplish discrete tasks. We will continue to improve our communication to HHS doctors. We will formalize the work done by MSA members so that it can be “counted" in McMaster's promotion and tenure process. We will share our process with our sister organization at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and learn from their successes. We will reach out to the community beyond our walls.

The first step I will take as your new president is to reach out to you. Together, we can begin prioritizing our tasks, developing timelines and delivering on our mandate to widen our footprint in this organization.

I look forward to serving you and working with you over the next two years.​

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