Yukoner becomes president of Canadian Medical Association

·2 min read
Katharine Smart is the president of the Yukon Medical Association. (Steve Silva/CBC - image credit)
Katharine Smart is the president of the Yukon Medical Association. (Steve Silva/CBC - image credit)

The Canadian Medical Association has a new president.

And she's a Yukoner.

Dr. Katharine Smart took over as president of the organization last week after spending a year as president-elect.

"It was a chance to really become familiar with the Canadian Medical Association, and the goals of the organization," Smart said of her year in the president-elect role.

She said there is a lot of work ahead of her but that it has been great so far.

"There's a lot going on given we're still in the pandemic," she said.

"As a pediatrician I've had lots of people reaching out to me for information about safe return to school for kids. Of course lots of ongoing and important conversations about the pandemic and the fourth wave and what needs to happen."

Priorities moving forward

Smart said it is important to have people with a range of backgrounds and have worked throughout Canada representing physicians.

She has worked in both urban and rural health centres and said it has given her a wider lens when it comes to the health system.

"I worked previously at the children's hospital in Calgary but also have that lens on rural and remote medicine having often locum in Northern Canada before and now having been in the Yukon the last four years." Smart explained.

Steve Silva/CBC
Steve Silva/CBC

Another goal for the Canadian Medical Association is committing to reconciliation, a key value moving forward, Smart said.

"I think it's really important that all Canadians feel heard and are represented when it comes to important issues like health care," she said.

"We know that structural inequalities, how systems are designed, play a big role in people's health so I think being able to come the North where you have that lens on some of these issues that might be different from what people see in urban environments is important."

An opportunity to advocate

Smart told CBC News that the pandemic has brought to light numerous inadequacies in the health care system.

"We've seen the strain the pandemic has caused in the Yukon," she said. "What you really realize is we live in an environment of health care austerity. We don't have enough family doctors for everyone to access care. That's a huge issue in the Yukon."

Smart said her new position is an opportunity to advocate for everyone within the health care system.

"What interested me about this role is the opportunity for advocacy both on the behalf of patients, and physicians," she said.

"To help us redefine what we want for health and wellness in this country. To have these difficult conversations about our health care system and what it's going to take to have them actually meet the needs of all Canadians. And to really work on these health work force issues that are critical for sustainability."

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