2015 AGM Highlights

Sep 25, 2015 - Sep 27, 2015

Summary highlights from the latest FMWC 91st Annual General Meeting (AGM) & Educational sessions
Women Physicians: Power in Partnership || Toronto, ON


Shared information and recent updates from experts across many spheres of medical disciplines served to strengthen partnership and collaboration for attendees at the recent 91st AGM of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada in Toronto. Some of the comments expressed by participants were that the event was “inspirational” and “exciting” as well as “effectively boosting” global health initiatives.

The opening event was the Board’s invitational Reception on Thursday evening for the International attendees sponsored by the Toronto branch and Medisys Health, held at the spacious Medisys offices in Adelaide Tower, downtown Toronto. Tasty appetizers and Canadian wines were sampled by international guests from Europe, Africa, Central America and India. Spirited conversation and networking established the tone for the conference.

Early Friday morning, immediate Past-President Dr. Mamta Gautam, Psychiatrist and Expert in Physician Health and Leadership conducted a Preconference Workshop on Physician Leadership. “Quit Being Good, Be Great!” was her theme. She urged participants to build on their strengths and shared the mantra of the Five “C’s” of Resilience: Control; Commitment; Connection; Calmness and Care for Self. She emphasized that self-care is not a luxury, but an investment. She urged the audience to “Choose to take the Stage” and to create for themselves a “Strong Script” illustrated by multiple examples and vignettes from her personal life and her practice.

A second Pre-Conference workshop presented by MD Financial Management covered Financial Planning for Female Physicians, and this year the multiple exhibitors assisted the participants with the breadth of many professional disciplines: included were Factsheets of Recommended Vaccines for healthy Pre-teens, Adolescents and Young Adults; Merck Canada’s Support for National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week; The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), Shoppers Drug Mart, SearchLightPharma and others.

At the annual general meeting, Dr. Vivien Brown, Toronto Family Physician and Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Medical School was installed as President of the FMWC for the 2015-2016 term. In her inaugural remarks she quoted the conference theme in English and in French: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In the afternoon Plenary, Dr. Brown delivered a spirited presentation on the need to improve vaccination coverage rates of the Canadian adult population and the need to improve uniformity of vaccine delivery across all of the provinces of Canada.

The conference’s opening address was presented by Dr. Jane Philpott whose topic was “Upsize your Outputs by the Power of Partnership” and she discussed why partnerships make sense and need to be cultivated. One of her pithy acronyms was YOLO: You Only Live Once and she urged participants to listen first, to give credit to others, to conduct outreach to young leaders, and to look out for the interests of others as their own reputations become enhanced.

The first Plenary was delivered by Dr. Claudia Morrissey whose focus was on Global Health, Saving Mothers, Giving Life. She described UN studies of maternal mortality in Uganda and in Zambia and the organizational partnering which was designed to reduce maternal mortality in those countries. She urged parties to determine “the ecology of safe delivery services.” Saving Mothers, Giving Life worked in four districts each in Zambia and Uganda, with the goal to rapidly reduce maternal mortality. As certain successes were achieved, what was learned was that Zero tolerance for preventable maternal and newborn deaths is the foundation upon which all political, public health, and community commitments and actions must build.

The Awards luncheon recognized the exceptional efforts of 5 outstanding professionals. Honorary Member Psychologist Dr. Janice Stein spoke later in the afternoon on decision-making and memorably said, “Don’t MISLEAD Toward The Truth!” A 25% risk of failure means a 75% chance of success!

Dr. Wendy Norman was given the Enid Johnson Macleod Award. A professor at the University of British Columbia, an important area of her work has concentrated on reducing the rate of recurrent unintended pregnancy through the provision of highly effective contraception methods. The pithy acronym she shared about her work on Sunday morning is SMART: Safe Methods At the Right Time! To make a change in policy, she said that it is essential to work with lots of partners. Her CART: Contraception Access Research Team included 17 academic disciplines!

The May Cohen Award was given to Dr. Jennifer Blake whose work complements the efforts of the global initiatives to reduce maternal mortality. In her presentation on Sunday morning, she called for an action plan of a National Birthing Initiative for Canada, and a rapid clear response to crisis. She identified one of Canada’s top 10 consumer web sites as She said that the medical dialogue is a privileged debate and encouraged partnership in advocacy and education. The need is to translate and educate about the science.

The 2015 Reproductive Health Award was given to Dr. Praseedha Janakiram. She is a practicing family physician in Toronto, with interests in HIV primary care, refugee health, women’s health, and global health. She has prior clinical experience from Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, India, Pakistan, and Malawi. She eloquently asked for volunteer physicians to prepare to accept some of the anticipated influx of refugee patients who will be coming to Canada from Syria.

The Student Leadership Award was given to Ms. Raisa Kanji, a medical student at the University of Alberta. This year, Ms. Kanji was one of 58 Alberta medical students chosen to each receive a $1,500 Alberta Medical Association (AMA) Medical Student Bursary. The bursary helps alleviate escalating medical school tuition fees and ensure that every qualified student can afford to attend medical school. Ms. Kanji helped organize the student and resident research/poster papers display and informatively introduced a number of the conference presenters.

Afternoon highlights included cardiologist Dr. Randi Rose’s persuasive presentation that Lifestyle Interventions may be the best medicine that cardiologists are not using! She urged participants to learn tips on increasing their own “nutrition literacy” and summarized the literature on the cardiovascular impact of lifestyle modification.

Saturday night’s GALA and Silent Auction at the Royal Ontario Museum was a stylish evening social event which encouraged warm interactions among the conference participants, and the Silent Auction raised needed funds. The dramatic venue included the opportunity to explore an entire gallery which showcased a world class collection of Mexican textiles, costume ensembles, sarapes, rebozos, textiles, embroidery, beadwork and more.

On Sunday morning Dr. Margery Glass spoke about the value of organizational partnerships. She said that progress may be slow on big issues, but that leads need to be pursued no matter how small. Significantly, both leaders and members should be networking and strength needs to be drawn from the integrity of the goal. She urged persistence. Dead ends are to be expected, but she said it was most important NOT TO GIVE UP!

Sunday morning the closing presentation on the topic of the impact of social media on the practice of medicine was presented by Dr. Marla Shapiro.  Dr. Shapiro, an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto is perhaps best known to the public as a health journalist for CTV News Channel. This year she was named a Member of the Order of Canada.  She said that medicine does not work well in sound bites, and that with the internet, perception is so fast that the definition of “risk” has changed. She said that Hazard + Outrage = Risk…and that the public needs to be educated not so much about relative risk, but attributable risk. She concluded by instructing the audience that “People are disturbed not by the things, but by the view they take of them” and rumours and misinformation spread virally in social media. Doctors need to be literate on how to respond to patients’ questions which have been generated by internet information.

The Conference concluded with a Board of Directors’ meeting and planning for next year’s Annual General Meeting is already underway. We’d love to hear from you, so please stay in touch!

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View our Past AGM Programs and Presentations here.