Categories > Leadership

Enhancements to Engage Primary Care, ACFP’s Leader Registry

Alberta’s health care system is constantly evolving and primary care is being asked more and more to provide advice and input on these changes.

To ensure the voice of family physicians is heard when these requests come in, we have created the Engage Primary Care portal–a way to link requesters to those physicians who want to be engaged. In order for it to be a success, though, we need you!

Taking 10 minutes of your time to fill out the family physician engagement form helps us identify the leaders within our communities–those physicians who want to have some sort of an impact or a voice in how primary care works in Alberta. Whether you want to be on province-wide committees or would rather complete an occasional survey, whether you have a specific clinical interest or have some non-clinical ideas you’d like to share, we want you to be part of our Leadership Registry.

Have you already filled out the form and been engaged? We’d still like to hear from you as we have added some more questions to the registry. Contact Adam at either or 587-525-8440 to update your information.

Engage Primary Care is a partnership between the Alberta College of Family Physicians, the Alberta Medical Association, Alberta Health Services, the Strategic Clinical Networks™ and the Primary Care Alliance.

April’s E-Panel Results Are In!

April’s e-Panel asked about Clinical Decision Support Tools (CDSTs) and how they can be better accepted and implemented by primary care physicians. Respondents were also asked to rank barriers to using CDSTs in their practices, list their favourite CDSTs, and discuss ways that CDSTs can be developed to be most useful at the point of care.

An interesting aspect of this question is that even when analyzed based on practice location (urban vs. rural) or practice type (solo vs. group) these remained the top four choices, just in different configurations.

The chart below shows the most popular ways that CDSTs can be developed to be most useful at point of care. Respondents were asked to check all choices that applied out of ten options, and these four were the most favoured. They also did not change based on practice type or location.

Respondents were also asked to list their favourite CDST and give a brief explanation as to why it is their favourite. This list is available in the full results of the e-panel, along with additional barriers and ways to make the content of CDSTs more relevant to practice.

Full e-panel results are available for download here.

The Alberta Family Medicine E-Panel is an initiative supported by the Alberta College of Family Physicians, Alberta Health Services Strategic Clinical Networks™, Alberta Health Services Primary Health Care Integration Network, and the Alberta Medical Association. If you would like to be a member of this e-panel, please contact Adam Filiatreault.

Leadership Is About the “Little Things”


Read the full March eNews and President’s Message.

“It takes team, grit, determination, and perseverance. If you trust in your people, and equally importantly, they trust you, amazing things can happen.” Darby Allen, Former Fire Chief, Fort McMurray, Alberta (Keynote, 63rd Annual Scientific Assembly)

As in emergency response, leadership in family medicine is not for the faint of heart. Primary care is being asked to lead and contribute through changing clinical delivery and practice, taking on more coordination and collaboration roles, reaching out to problem solve, and seek resources to achieve better results.

If you want to gain skills as a leader for your practice, your Primary Care Network, your Zone, or for the province, you will have to seek them out. You will find a great line up of speakers and leaders at ACFP’s second annual LeadFM Conference in Calgary on April 20 and 21, 2018. We hope that you can join us to start your leadership journey or to continue to network and collect leadership tools and resources that will support you and your team in your day to day delivery of family medicine.

But let us not forget, “it is about the little things.” I think what Darby Allen said about leadership also holds true for me. When working with my teams at the University of Alberta, Sylvan Family Health Centre, or the ACFP, I have to be purposeful about my actions to show appreciation for all of the work that everyone does that contributes to the delivery of medical student and resident education, patient care or good governance. I trust my team members to play their role to the best of their abilities and to do what they were trained for.

This year’s 63rd Annual Scientific Assembly was a true success and example of what can be achieved when you have an engaged team of physician leaders. Featuring inspiring and thought-provoking keynotes, like the one delivered by Darby Allen, to workshops focused on using integration and continuity to lead system transformation, our team of committee members and staff came together with grit and determination to deliver what one delegate said was “The best ASA I have ever attended!”

In this way we are all successful and “amazing things can happen.” We all can do our part to show leadership through appreciation. And in building strong leaders and strong teams, we can continue to produce exemplary events—our Annual Scientific Assembly being no exception.


Leadership for Where You Are

When physicians hear “leadership”, many think it’s a title for their peers who have been in the system for years and take part in provincial committees; but leadership is being redefined by physicians in all stages of their career. Dr. Dinesh Witharana, a physician in his first five years of family practice, took some time to talk about his leadership journey so far:

As a physician in your first five years of family practice, what pushed you to take on a system leadership role?
As a medical student and resident, I had always told myself to avoid taking on additional responsibility. Medicine has a way of asking more and more of you, and it never seems to stop asking. I wanted to avoid taking on too much leadership and administration responsibilities and end up neglecting my clinical or personal obligations. However, during my first five years of practice, I became increasingly frustrated with gaps/barriers in the medical system for patients and caregivers, including health care professionals, without someone to advocate for them. As a result, I started taking on leadership positions to tear down some of those barriers, and bridge those gaps that I saw in my clinical practice.

What has been your most rewarding experience so far?
I had a palliative patient at home who needed urgent treatment for hypercalcemia. It was incredibly difficult to get her treatment as an outpatient in a reasonable time without sending her through ER. Eventually I was successful, but pushed for change after. Three quick emails and two weeks later, the process changed to allow palliative patients in my community to get urgent treatment as an outpatient quickly and easily. It was incredibly rewarding to see change to a policy so quickly. That change will now improve the quality of life for patients, theirs families, their healthcare providers, and save healthcare dollars all at the same time. Win-Win-Win-Win.

Have you encountered any challenges or barriers in taking on a leadership role? How did you overcome these?
The only barrier to taking on leadership roles is trying to manage that along with clinical practice, teaching, administration duties, and family/personal time. However, leadership roles can light a fire in you that brightens all those other aspects of your life. Your time in leadership roles can improve the quality of your time spent doing activities outside leadership.

What advice would you give to physicians who have considered taking on a leadership role, but are hesitant to do so?
Pick things you are really passionate about. There are so many opportunities for physicians to get engaged, so pick your battles carefully. There is a balance, but taking on leadership responsibilities doesn’t necessarily have to compete with other aspects of your life. Often it can complement and enhance everything else that you do.


About the Author

Dinesh Witharana is a family physician in Spruce Grove who primarily focuses on community primary care of palliative patients. He often brings residents with him to his hospice rounds and home visits. He also enjoys participating on The Provincial Palliative Tumor Group as an Executive Member, the AMA Section of Palliative Care Fee Committee, The ACFP’s First Five Years In Practice Committee, and soon the Core Committee for the Cancer Strategic Clinical Network. He lives in Spruce Grove with two amazing children, Nala (3 years old) and Kaius (4 months old) and a extraordinary wife, Wing.

December’s E-Panel Results Are In!

Results of the December e-panel on digestive health clinical care pathways show that most physicians find them useful and feel there is a way to integrate them into practice before seeking a specialist referral. The sample size of this survey was 29 family physicians from across Alberta.

87% of respondents state that clinical care pathways have a role in practice if used before considering a specialist referral. Over 80% of members agreed or strongly agreed that clinical care pathways are useful, relevant to their practice, and help them provide quality care to their patients.

Participants were asked a total of six questions in an online survey which was open for 10 days. One question asked participants to reflect on what would increase the likelihood of their using a clinical care pathway in their practice.

Full e-panel results are available for download here.

The Alberta Family Medicine E-Panel is an initiative supported by the Alberta College of Family Physicians, Alberta Health Services Clinical Networks, Alberta Health Services Primary Health Care Integration Network, and the Alberta Medical Association. If you have questions about or would like to be a member of this e-panel, please contact Adam Filiatreault.