Categories > President’s Messages

October – Message From the President

Read the full October eNews & President’s Message.

Many of us have had our own brushes with the health care system, be it our own illness or through a family member. I have ​lived through such an experience recently through my father’s serious and very lengthy illness and hospital stay. Throughout his entire stay, the staff caring for my father have been phenomenal.

I, as the family member, have enjoyed a great deal of respect and engagement. So, it was with considerable surprise that I found all of it tarred with the experience of my father’s last day in hospital; the plan was for him to go to transition care. I called one morning, as I often did, to check on my father to see how he was doing. I was completely gobsmacked when I was told he had been discharged the day before to a completely different facility. Discharged without letting the family know? Further inquiries about this led to the reason being that “it was a chaotic day.”

On reflection, I realize that I am not alone in such an experience. Our health care system is broken. Many people (ourselves and patients) can attest to similar heart wrenching experiences. It is difficult to ​not to​ get angry when hearing about these stories. I was angry ​ initially​ but ​am ​more ​deeply ​troubled about how our system continue​s​ to function with such gaps.

What can we do as family physicians to prevent such lapses in communication?

Do our own clinic systems and processes lead to failures of important communications with our own patients?​ If so, do we have ways of recognizing these lapses and resolving them? The doctor patient relationship is so central to family medicine and what it means to be a family physician. And in turn, central to this relationship is trust.

Our patients trust us to communicate openly and transparently with them, even if the news is bad or something they would really rather not hear. Our patients also trust us to involve family, at their wish and expressed consent, family who need to understand what is going on and need to be involved in plans of management.

I trust you​, as family physicians,​ are doing what you can to be strong advocates for your patients. Advocacy is one of the CanMeds roles and we need to role model this and teach it to our learners. You are there for ​your ​patients to inform ​ and educate​, ​to help navigate a very complex health care system, ​to be leaned on, to offer guidance, or to just listen. But we cannot do it alone. It is a team effort to ensure continuity. We must have proper access to records and information on our patients. These principles of the Patient’s Medical Home need to continue to be the focus of our policy makers. And the ACFP will continue to advocate for this.

There will always be “chaotic days” to contend with. We must stay focused and ensure ​that our ​patients and their families are central to all actions and decisions​ within the system​.


August – Message From the President

Read the full August eNews & President’s Message.

Advanced Care Planning – A Personal Perspective

Having an advanced care plan easily available to any health care professional—be it home care nurses, paramedics with EMS or nurses on an active care unit in hospital—is very useful. In our own clinic, we discuss a personal directive with every patient who has a review of their complex care plan. It would be good to include follow-up and incorporate a Green Sleeve to ensure completion of a personal directive. On reflection, why only during review of a complex care plan; why not incorporate this into an annual review with any patient?

I’ve recently had a very personal brush with legal documents such as Power of Attorney and Personal Directive. I was recognizing signs of illness in my own father and had embarked on obtaining these documents in a proactive manner. However, it may not have been truly proactive when one sees a family member deteriorating as proactive means doing this before something happens. My father then became seriously ill and was hospitalized quite suddenly before I had these documents ready. In the weeks following, I had to have documents transferred from my lawyer in Red Deer to a lawyer in Calgary, then have that lawyer meet with my father in hospital to get a Power of Attorney and Personal Directive in place. My father had the capacity to remain his own agent while this was being pursued, however, it could just as easily not have been the case. And, in all honesty, it was truly the Power of Attorney that was most important to my father. He was bedridden in hospital and could not look after his affairs (even though he knows the value of his bank accounts better than I know mine). Since having the Power of Attorney, I have looked after a tax installment, insurance payments and other bills, and my father is very relieved.

Is having the Green Sleeve on the refrigerator door the best place? I’m not sure. It needs be with the patient in question. I know of one case in which the family had done all the right things for a member of the family receiving palliative care. The Green Sleeve was on the door of the fridge, but this patient rapidly deteriorated, paramedics were called, but the Green Sleeve had disappeared (no one knows to where) and, as a result, there was no personal directive. A husband had to watch his terminally ill wife receive CPR when this was explicitly not her wish, yet there was nothing he could do.

The bottom line is to advocate with your patients to be proactive and explicit about advanced care planning and to have those plans readily available for when and where they are needed. It truly does provide a much higher quality of care for your patient.


June – Message From the President

Read Full June Newsletter Here.

How the latest Auditor General’s report affects you as a Family Physician?

In the most recent report from the Office of the Auditor in AlbertaBetter Healthcare for Albertans May 2017, it is noted that many recommendations have been made over the last 25 plus years that have never been implemented because there are root causes that have never been resolved. The root causes this report identifies are:

  1. Fragmented structure of the health system
  2. Lack of integration of physician services and the services of other care providers
  3. Lack of sharing and use of clinical information

Integrated care is identified as the framework that is evident in the highest performing health systems in the world. We need a health system in Alberta where all parts work together to produce the highest quality of care for each patient. The Office of the Auditor General insists that “Significantly better health care is within reach” in Alberta if we overcome the challenges that have stood in our way.

In reviewing the report, here is what I see as the recommendations that matter to us as family physicians:

    • Building a system centered on patients with a single care plan based on the patients goals and teams to support that plan
      How do you contribute to care planning in your practice?
    • Integration of family physicians with the rest of the health care system
      How can you connect personally with other parts of the health care system in your daily practice?
    • Patients receive care in the most appropriate location which, most often, should be in a community setting rather than a hospital
      How can you expand your scope of practice to keep patients in your care rather than referring them to another part of the system?


  • Evidence based tools are available for decision making and care planning
    What are the ways you can ensure you have the most relevant and timely recommendations and guidelines for the care of your patients?



  • Linking funding and physician compensation to results
    Have you considered the impacts of a blended capitation model or other payment model for your practice? If so, what do you need to put in place to make a transition to new payment models?



  • Patients are engaged in their own care
    How do you involve your patients in their care planning? How do you maintain that engagement between visits?



  • Measurement and benchmarking of care quality and patient outcomes by everyone
    Are you looking at your own data regularly to see where improvements could be made?


We need to continue to take a leadership role in the stewardship of the health system through daily actions. I truly believe that we can improve how our health care system performs if we are diligent and take responsibility for our own contributions. Our patients will appreciate it.


May – Message From the President

“Where are we headed?” and “Who is leading the way?” We have a collaborative government right now that values primary care and community. We are positioned in a time where resources are limited and the reality that we need to do things differently in order to provide the excellent results that health care spending should deliver on. Primary Care, with the concrete leadership of family physicians, is being asked to contribute and help to design systems that work.

At ACFP, we will do our part through supporting family physicians in Alberta through continuing professional development, advocacy, leadership and research that enables them to provide high quality health care for their patients and their communities. It is our vision as a Board of Directors for the ACFP is to advance health for patients, families and communities where every Albertan has a Patient’s Medical Home.

The goal is for every family practice in every community in Alberta to be able to offer comprehensive, coordinated, and continuing care to their populations through a family physician working with health care teams. This vision puts the needs of patients and their communities at the centre of care. The PMH vision also reinforces the physician-patient relationship and the importance of the Four Principles of Family Medicine. The PMH Vision is not going to happen without commitment to implementation from all of the leading organizations in Alberta.
We have strong working relationships with several other organizations in Alberta and Canada all banding together to create the conditions for better systems and supports to make the PMH Vision a reality. Check out our ACFP Who’s Who in Alberta Health Care document to see how we all work together.

March – Message From the President

On March 4, 2017 at the Annual Meeting of Members, the ACFP presented the President Installation of Dr. Fred Janke. Below is a transcript of his acceptance speech.


Dear Members,

I would like to thank outgoing president, Dr. Chmelicek for, his leadership over the last two years and the dedication and passion he has brought with his leadership. I have been with the Board for a number of years now and have been a part of the governance change we implemented in the last year to decrease the Board size and bring it from a representative Board to a smaller skills based Board. I provide corporate history and continuity through this change. I thank the dedication and hard work of Terri Potter, the executive director and all of the staff at ACFP. All have worked hard to build the representative voice of family physicians we provide to become an organization that we can all be proud of. In my other life I wear many hats: I am a family doc like all of you and work in the trenches in patient care; I’m part of a progressive patient’s medical home in which we work as a team; I have been an academic physician for fifteen plus years; I have advocated on behalf of rural generalism for just as long. This allows me to bring a very broad perspective to this position.

As we move forward, I would like to highlight the four pillars of the ACFP’s strategic framework and would like to propose that these be the four areas I devote my time and energy toward on behalf of the organization and all of you:

  1. Ensure that as family physicians, we continue to have access to high quality continuing professional development and best practice resources.
  2. That we continue to advocate on behalf of family physicians to influence public and health policy that supports excellence in patient care.
  3. That we as a Board and organization stay connected with you, our membership, and to build on the engagement of Alberta’s family physicians.
  4. That both public and government grow in the awareness of the value of family physicians, our vision and the concrete leadership we can provide to implement positive change.

My pledge is to work hard to ensure that the ACFP continues to be sought for guiding wisdom and continues to be a voice for family physicians in Alberta.

I cannot do this without you in turn supporting our organization and supplying voice, leadership, and wisdom where and when we need. I cannot do this without the support of our very capable Board and I cannot do this without the tireless efforts of the ACFP staff.

Thank you for honouring me with this position, the Presidency of the ACFP.

Dr. Fred Janke, BSc, MSc, MD, FCFP, FRRMS
President, Alberta College of Family Physicians
Read Full March Newsletter Here.

January – Message From the President

Fellow Family Physicians,

I would first like to thank all of you who responded to the Opioid Crisis message in December’s eNews. We now have a robust Task Force of 12 family physicians that will support efforts to ensure the family physician voice is heard in decision making on how the province will respond.

The Task Force met once already and discussed some pragmatic and specific actions that could be taken to respond quickly. The Task Force will be presenting some solutions and asking for your assistance in curbing the crisis. Family physicians and their teams in primary care are often times the first point of contact for patients seeking help and also the place where recovery and stability can be supported. Thank you for being there to help!

With Much Appreciation:
This time of year is always bitter sweet, it is a time when terms of service on committees and boards are ending and new volunteers are coming onto the scene. I would like to personally thank all of the dedicated volunteers who have contributed to the ACFP Board and various committees over the years. Some of these people have been involved in daily, weekly, monthly, or once a year connections with advocacy efforts, program development, and informing member services at ACFP. We cannot be all that we are without our volunteers. Thank you also to the volunteers that are stepping up to get involved now. We are looking forward to another amazing year.

Top 10 of 2016:
This past year has flown by and there are several things that stand out for me as accomplishments for ACFP:

  1. New Governance Model adopted and smaller more focused Board of Directors
  2. New Strategic Plan developed by the Board
  3. New ACFP committee structure and recruitment
  4. CPD Needs Assessment
  5. Family Physician Leadership Program launched with 15 new LEADS faculty
  6. PEIP Conference experienced record attendance and successful Webcast was offered
  7. Growth in membership – the number of Alberta docs finally becoming members, new grads, transitioning from other provinces, or international newcomers
  8. Building strong working relationships with partners in primary care and health system resulting in Patient’s Medical Home implementation going strong
  9. New Mainpro+ implemented and supported resulting in QI for CPD credits, more self-directed learning and other new ways to earn credits through daily practice
  10. Tools for Practice articles offered in French and English and subscribers grew again this year to over 30,000 worldwide.


John Chmelicek
Alberta College of Family Physicians

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