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2017 Conference and Annual General Meeting : Women’s Health & Well-Being: Connected, Compassionate and Courageous.

The FMWC 93rd Annual General Meeting and Conference on Women’s Health was held in Ottawa on September 15-17, 2017. Canadian women physicians came from all over Canada and connected over three days, bonding over the March on the Hill on Saturday – yes! a March! – and learning about work-life balance and resiliency; updates on HRT, heart health, diabetes, COPD, and vaccinations; and strengthening their advocacy and leadership skills. On Saturday evening, members gathered at the spectacular Chateau Laurier for an evening shopping in a fair trade marketplace and silent auction in support of Amnesty International. It wrapped up on Sunday morning with leadership advice from inspirational women: Dr. Gigi Osler, President-Elect of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Nadia Alam, President-Elect, Ontario Medical Association and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, the provincial Progressive Conservative candidate for Kanata-Carleton. It was a weekend packed with people, fueled by good vibes and driven by passion.

The FMWC joined the voices of Canadians across the country in protesting against the unfair tax changes recently proposed by the federal government. These changes will hurt women disproportionately as the tax practices under review are used by families to compensate spouses for their in-kind contributions to the business of doctoring as well as fund maternity leaves, sick leaves, vacations, unemployment.  The idea to organize a March to Parliament Hill was hatched. It would be held at the conclusion of Saturday sessions and before the fundraising gala with Amnesty International. Ana, in the National office, sprang into action and miraculously, a March was born!

President, Dr. Anne Niec addressing the crowd at the Town Hall meeting

The weekend began on Thursday when we took advantage of an invitation from Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre to speak at a Town Hall meeting in Nepean. The place was packed with people looking for more information about the tax changes to small businesses. The air in the room was electric as people buzzed about how these changes would affect them and their families. Dr. Anne Niec addressed the crowd and spoke on the impact on women small business owners and called for the government to address the need for national strategies in seniors' health, childcare and housing. You can read her speech here.

Past-President, Dr. Vivien Brown, President, Dr. Anne Niec, President-Elect, Dr. Beverly Johnson

The Director's Meeting was held on Friday morning. The AGM festivities began on Friday night  in the Penthouse at the Sheraton Ottawa, with a welcome reception themed to fit the Canada 150 celebrations. Members were asked to wear red and white to commemorate the sesquicentennial and many were happy to oblige. A photobooth provided tons of fun as members dressed up in fun accessories to mark the event. Members were happy to reconnect and meet new people as they sipped wine and nibbled on hors d'oeuvres. Everyone was looking forward to the March. Big thank you to the Ontario Medical Association for sponsoring the welcome reception.

Excitement filled the air on Saturday morning as members gathered at the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel for the day’s sessions. Physician burnout is becoming a problem within the profession and that concern is echoed in this year’s theme: connected, compassion and courageous. A pre-conference workshop on resilience by Dr. Mamta Gautam and a conference presentation on mindfulness by Dr. Anne Hennessy, helped us recognize our own stress levels and use the tools around us to create nurturing space.

It is the pleasure of the FMWC to recognize outstanding Canadian women physicians at the annual award luncheon. These women have dedicated their careers to the advancement of women in medicine and women's health and we are pleased to honour their achievements. This year was no exception. You can find out more about these outstanding women in the Summer 2017 issue of The Voice, (click here). For more information on our awards, check out the Awards pages, here. The deadline date for all awards is December 31, 2017.

  • Honorary Member: Monica Olsen
  • Enid Johnson Macleod Award: Dr. Shaila Misra
  • May Cohen Award: Dr. Janet Dollin
  • Reproductive Health Award: Dr. Jaelene Mannerfeldt
  • Student Leadership Award: Danusha Jebanesan
  • Margaret Owen-Waite Memorial Fund: Dr. Pamela Liao

The afternoon sessions on women’s health covered a range of topics from current perspectives on hormone replacement therapy to heart health to vaccines during pregnancy. The slides will be available with the authors' permission on the FMWC website. Each presentation deserves it's own blog post, we'll mark them AGM 2017, and we're getting the proceedings ready for the next issue of The Voice, coming out in December. Sadly, one take away no one wanted to hear but we feel we have to pass along: for women, drinking that extra glass of wine on Saturday night might not be such a good idea. More to come...

The Saturday evening gala at the Chateau Laurier was every bit as spectacular as one would expect from a 5-Star hotel and you don't need to hear how marvelous the linens were, how delectable the food, or how delicious the wine. The FMWC welcomed Amnesty International to partner for the evening we came away with two very important takeaway messages. The first is that the refugee asylum process in Canada is cruel to families and treats refugees like criminals; and the second is that letter writing campaigns work. There was a lot of information to take in over the course of the evening, the statistics were sobering and the stories heartbreaking, yet told with hope for a better future. Look for more information about the presentations in the next issue of The Voice.

Sunday is always a bittersweet day at any conference, people are anxious to get home but they don't want to leave, having found comfort with new friends and inspired by new encounters. The morning was all about leadership. Dr. Merrilee Fullerton spoke on communication for physician advocacy, CMA President-Elect Dr Gigi Osler who addressed the issue of physician burnout and the need to strengthen medical culture and redefine the role of physicians in health system reform. She was followed by Dr. Nadia Alam who spoke on Courage: Saddling up Even When You're Scared to Death. Dr. Alam has been standing up and speaking up on behalf on Ontario physicians in the face of government contract negotiations. Her story inspired us all to "saddle up"!

Watch for the Winter 2017 issue of The Voice for AGM Proceedings!

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