Archives > June 2018

Notice to Members

Dear Members,

The Alberta College of Family Physicians is shocked and saddened by the criminal charges against Dr. Fred Janke announced today.

Effectively immediately, Dr. Vishal Bhella (President-Elect) has assumed the role of President, Alberta College of Family Physicians.

Please be assured that our focus remains on operations and to provide programs and services to our valued Members.

Due to the gravity of this matter, we will not be available for further comment in the immediate timeframe. However, as this matter develops, we shall communicate with our members and stakeholders in a transparent manner and in keeping with our commitment to good governance.

Ms. Terri Potter, PMP, CAE
Executive Director, Alberta College of Family Physicians


Navigating the World of Insurance

Insurance—it’s a complicated subject that most medical students and residents leave on the back burner during training. However, there are many different types of insurance to consider as you make the transition to becoming a staff physician.

Depending on your specific situation, here is a list of the most common types of insurance purchased by physicians:

    1. Disability Insurance
      If you were a resident physician in Alberta, the Professional Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta (PARA) automatically provided Group Disability Insurance that was based on your salary as a resident. However, this benefit expires once you have completed your training, unless you submit an application to convert your existing PARA coverage to a disability insurance plan with the Alberta Medical Association (AMA). Note that conversion packages are normally emailed out to residents near the end of training since the conversion application must be submitted before the end of your residency contract in order to ensure continuous coverage. However, you have up to 60 days following the end of your contract to apply. More information can be found here.

      There are numerous add-ons to consider such as the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that adjusts your disability benefit based on inflation, and the Guaranteed Insurability Benefit (GIB) that gives you the option of increasing your coverage annually without proof of good health. Add-ons do result in extra cost, but depending on your situation, may be helpful so it is a good idea to discuss this with your insurance provider. Of note: If you are planning on moving and practicing outside of Alberta, it is still possible to convert your PARA insurance to a plan with the AMA, as long as you maintain your membership with the AMA (for a yearly fee).

      As your income increases, you may want to re-evaluate the amount of disability insurance coverage you have purchased.

    2. Term Life Insurance
      As an Alberta resident physician, PARA provided limited life insurance automatically to all residents. Similar to disability insurance, you can convert the PARA policy for life insurance to an AMA policy upon graduation. The application form is the same. Adjustments can be made to the amount of coverage, which will depend on your specific situation.
    3. Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance
      Again, PARA provided this insurance automatically to all Alberta resident physicians. However, there is no option to convert to an AMA plan after graduation. If you choose to incorporate this type of insurance into your portfolio, you will need to purchase this separately.
    4. Critical Illness Insurance
      This coverage is optional, but provides a one-time lump sum payment in the event you are diagnosed with a critical illness as defined by the particular policy you are considering. There is usually a specific survival period that must be exceeded before the payment is given out and this will vary based on the insurance company you are dealing with.
    5. Professional Overhead Expense Insurance (POE)
      This type of insurance is relevant to physicians who are joining a practice permanently or purchasing a clinic where you may be incurring regular business-related costs. In the event you are unable to work, POE insurance comes into effect to help cover the cost of rent/mortgage, electricity and water bills, employee salaries, etc. If you are a locum physician, POE insurance is generally unnecessary.
    6. Travel Medical Insurance
      Health and wellness is important for physician longevity but, before you step outside of Canada, be sure to consider your options for travel medical insurance. This may have been included under your medical benefits as a resident (in Alberta, this was covered by Alberta Blue Cross), but it is no longer available after completing training. There are many credit cards that now provide travel medical insurance, but another option would be to purchase travel medical insurance separately through another provider. At the very least, your coverage should encompass the duration of travel and you may consider adding extra days in case of delays.

Some additional items to consider as you navigate the insurance world are:

    1. Update your beneficiary
      This may change depending on your life situation (e.g. marriage, divorce).
    2. Readdress your coverage after major life events
      For example, you may want to consider increasing your life insurance if you purchase a new home or have a child.

Insurance may seem like another item to add to the stress of transitioning to practice but, once it is set up, it can provide you with added reassurance that you are helping to protect what is most valuable to you.

About the Author

Dr. Michelle Chow is a family physician and NAMS certified menopause practitioner in Calgary, Alberta. She has an urban general practice with a special interest in women’s health, and also practices low risk obstetrics.

Responding to the Opioid Crisis in Your Practice


Read the full June eNews and President’s Message.

Patients at risk of opioid dependency are in your practice. Let me repeat this. Patients at risk of opioid dependency are in your practice. The good news is that we can manage those risks through basic chronic disease management approaches.

The reality is that we will have patients that require pharmacological interventions for their acute or chronic pain. It’s also likely that we’ll have patients that are using substances recreationally or due to substance use disorder, and that may put them at risk of mortality.

In primary care—as generalist providers of comprehensive and, often, complex care—we need to look to simple practice change and new partnerships to make huge impacts for our patients.

  1. Start with a conversation. We have trusted, long-term relationships with our patients and if we open the door to allow open and honest dialogue about where they are struggling, it can be the first steps into the prevention and management processes. It may, perhaps, be similar in nature to discussing smoking cessation with your patients where highlighting the benefits of quitting (rather than the dangers of continuing) is the most effective way to a solution that works for them.
  2. Partner with others in your clinic and community to create your care teams. It may take some time to build the relationships, education, and experience to create a functional care team that works but it will pay off in spades. Consider building “integrated care partnerships” with your patients and others in your community (even if you have to look to AHS or PCN resources outside of your practice) that have the needed expertise. That’s what they are there for.
  3. Build your capacity as a team. There are, and will continue to be many, opportunities in the coming years to build capacity in opioid management, including harm reduction, diagnosis, and treatment (such as opioid replacement therapy and prevention). Look for sessions—conferences, workshops, or online—that you and your team can participate in to gain skills and best practices.
  4. Bring in facilitators to help redesign your practice. Health care, including family medicine, is changing and we need to become increasingly agile to adapt to the changes, but you don’t have to do it alone. Your PCN and the AMA have an army of practice facilitators and change agents that are well-equipped to support your clinic in a rethink/redesign process.

Here at the ACFP, we are working with our partners—PEER, AMA, PCN Zone Committees, AHS (Provincial, Zone, and Community Programs), and Alberta Health—on the Primary Health Care Response to the Opioid Crisis. We want to make sure that we are providing the supports and resources that you need and are looking to you to let us know where your challenges are, where you’ve been successful in your own practice in responding to the crisis, and what we can do to help.

Call or email Terri Potter, our Executive Director, any time.


Innovation in Primary Care: Caring for Unattached and Marginalized Patients

The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) is pleased to share a new issue in its Innovation in Primary Care series that focuses on caring for unattached and marginalized patients across a range of social circumstances.

Case studies are featured from Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Quebec.

The CFPC and its Advisory Committee on Family Practice developed the Innovation in Primary Care series to give individuals and teams opportunities to showcase innovations in care that they have introduced in their local jurisdictions of practice and to open the possibility of scaling up these ideas.

The series supports collaboration and learning among Chapters and among family physicians across the country by sharing local approaches to health care that are working well.

If you have an innovative model or practice that you would like to submit, or if you would like to provide feedback on the series, please send an email to:

Earn up to 70 certified credits with the new and improved GoMainpro!

If you have not yet signed up for GoMainpro, you are missing out on the ACFP’s best kept secret.

GoMainpro is an online learning platform where you can earn certified credits for ACFP’s Tools for Practice library and ACFP’s Video Library from its past events—61st Annual Scientific Assembly and Practical Evidence for Informed Practice conferences.

Simply read a Tools for Practice article or watch a video and reflect on your learning experience and earn credits—it is that easy! Download the GoMainpro fact sheet.

Launch the Intro to GoMainpro to Take a Look!


New and Improved GoMainpro

GoMainpro Updates Include:

  • Updated GoMainpro look and feel
  • New and improved My Dashboard page
  • Removal of tiered subscriptions and credit limits
  • Addition of new certified content libraries
  • New credit opportunities on Tools for Practice Online
  • Addition of one new non-certified library.

Removal of Tiered Subscription Levels – What This Means
The ACFP is pleased to inform you that we have removed the tiered subscription options on GoMainpro meaning that you will no longer be limited by subscription levels and their credit limits.

All credit limits have been removed and now you can earn as many credits our content libraries can offer.

Additional Content Libraries
The ACFP is very pleased to announce the addition of two video libraries. The ACFP Video Library includes session and keynote recordings from the 61st Annual Scientific Assembly and the 2017 Practical Evidence for Informed Practice conferences.

GoMainpro subscribers can access a video title and reflect on their learning to earn credits. Download the conference program guides for the 61st ASA and 2017 PEIP conference for more information.

The ACFP Video Library Self-Learning program has been certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to 14 Mainpro+ credits.

Additional Credit Opportunities for Tools for Practice
The ACFP has re-certified the Tools for Practice Online library and it is now eligible for more credits! In fact all 200+ articles have been accounted for which totals a possible of 56 certified credits. With the removal of tiered subscriptions and credit limits, this means you can earn additional credits on Tools for Practice articles.

The Tools for Practice Online Self-Learning program has been certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to 56 Mainpro+ credits.

Non-certified Video Library
The ACFP has also added archived files from the 2016 Practical Evidence for Informed Practice conference. As a subscriber you will have access to the entire collection.

Because the ACFP is unable to report on non-certified credits, you will be required to report on non-certified credits yourself. Alternatively you can also access form to earn further credits on these titles.

*The maximum of certified Mainpro+ credits corresponds to the total possible amount of credits from the certified libraries available on GoMainpro. Please note that credits earned from June 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018 have already been reported and submitted. Credits earned as of June 1, 2018 will be submitted to the CFPC on May 31, 2019

Prevention in Hand

The Prevention in Hand (PiH) website has an attractive new interface that is also highly functional and easy to navigate. With generous support from Scotiabank and the Foundation for Advancing Family Medicine (FAFM), the Prevention in Hand website and mobile app were updated in 2017.

Prevention in Hand website has garnered an impressive 61,000 active users, 656 cross-links from 53 different websites since it was launched in 2015.

Health care professionals can access the information individually or with their patients to review current chronic disease information, professional guidelines, e-Learning modules, online assessments, and wellness and healthy lifestyle management tools.

Family doctors who complete the eLearning modules can earn Mainpro+® credits.

In this past year, we added doctor-reviewed content on five new chronic disease topics (Chronic Pain, Insomnia, Osteoporosis, Concussion, and Thyroid Disease) for practitioners and patients and launched 4 certified e-learning modules, which over 21,000 people have accessed the modules.