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Canadian Paediatric Society

How can we model the RCPSC Health Advocate CanMEDS role?

Posted on Jun 8 2016 by the Canadian Paediatric Society | Permalink

Topic(s): Advocacy

By: Dr. Eleanor MacDougall, former Program Director, University of Manitoba Pediatric Residency

This important question for paediatricians in training was answered by PGY3 residents in the University of Manitoba’s Paediatric Residency Program. They have been involved with group health advocacy projects since 2009, building on this vital role right where they live and practice.

Paediatric residents completed several projects inspired by the Canadian Paediatric Society’s status report Are We Doing Enough?, a rating tool which helped them select project topics. They improved Manitoba’s placement on key measure by lobbying for new legislation to prevent injury and disease. Children and youth in the province are now benefitting from:  

  • Safer travel in motor vehicles, thanks to recent legislation mandating booster seats for children up to 9 years of age.
  • Fewer serious head injuries, since all children and youth under 18 years of age must now wear bicycle helmets when cycling.
  • Lower skin cancer risks, with legislation banning anyone under age 18 from accessing tanning booths.

They are advocating in other key areas, too: building awareness around early childhood literacy, improving dental hygiene and promoting supportive resources for transgender children and youth. Residents have experienced the rewards of advocating in the communities they serve, along with positive changes in the lives of children and youth they see in practice. Such direct effects not only inspire young doctors to combine advocacy and medicine throughout their careers, but are also a model for other trainees.

One huge benefit to the CPS is that the Manitoba government is keenly aware of the status report. The dedicated work of community paediatricians made certain of this, and the most recent government initiatives are:

  • An immunization program to protect boys from HPV by providing Gardasil vaccine, to be implemented in 2016.
  • A universal newborn hearing screening program planned for 2016.

There is always more to be done, but Manitoba’s paediatric residents have clearly pointed the way. Health promotion, disease prevention and child welfare are areas that need our focused attention, while new topics continue to emerge. The need for up-to-date surveillance and current medical data are essential for developing advocacy.

Are We Doing Enough? is a valuable resource for paediatricians at any stage in their careers. We look forward to using the new edition to help spur progress both in our home province and across Canada.



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Last updated: Jun 9 2016