Getting to know AFMC Board of Directors’ Public Members

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The AFMC’s Board of Directors is constituted of 21 Directors including the Deans of the 17 Faculties of Medicine and four public members. By including members of the public on its Board of Directors, the AFMC benefits from the input of experienced leaders that bring important perspectives for the advancement of academic medicine in Canada.

We will be featuring AFMC Board’s public members on our newsletters. Read our interview with Anne McFarlane.

What sparked your interest in becoming a public member of the AFMC’s Board of Directors?  

My experiences working in government and on various health related Boards have made clear to me that high quality, socially responsible medical education is vital to maintaining the health of Canadians as well as the quality and accessibility of healthcare services.   I wanted to be in a position to provide advice on healthcare priorities as well as public sector realities to a respected and active Board which has the mandate and tools to support health system improvements.

In your opinion, why is it important to have the perspective of public members on the board?  

A public perspective can be helpful for a variety of reasons.  Hearing from public members can provide insights into the patient’s actual experience of healthcare in different parts of the country.  Having public members with expertise in a variety of areas can improve the quality of decision making.  As well, Boards composed solely of academic experts run the risk of failing to communicate to the public clearly or failing to capture the public’s attention on issues of importance.  The more the public is able to see medical education as responsive and relevant to their healthcare experience, the more support medical education can expect from the public.

What do you see as the biggest challenges for academic medicine in Canada? 

The need for more physicians, primarily family physicians, will be both a challenge for classroom instruction but also for practicum placements in an already stressed system.  Another challenge will be the need to keep pace with the introduction of advances in healthcare both for new learners and to support physicians through continuing medical education.  Finally, responding to the levels of stress experienced by both students and providers working in the health system is and will continue to be a challenge.

What work being undertaken by the AFMC brings you excitement or joy?  

The focus on issues like addictions and mental health which are pressing concerns in so many communities across the country.  As well, I was pleased to see the focus on support of research and innovation.   The rapidity with which we are seeing emerging technologies in healthcare calls for both national and international collaboration and AFMC can play a significant role here.

Headshot of Anne McFarlane

Anne McFarlane is a retired civil servant and former Vice-President with the Canadian Institute for Health Information. She sits on the Boards of the Vancouver Island Health Authority and Canadian Blood Services. Anne has previously been a Board Member of Providence Healthcare in Vancouver and the Michael Smith Foundation.