Q&A with new AFMC CEO

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We are pleased to welcome Dr. Constance LeBlanc as the new President and CEO of the AFMC with the mandate to continue AFMC’s mission of advancing medical education, research and social accountability in Canada.

Originally from New Brunswick, Connie completed undergraduate studies at the Université de Moncton and medical education at Université Laval in Québec City. She has practiced tertiary care Emergency Medicine in Nova Scotia for over three decades. A lifelong learner, Connie holds a Master of Arts in Medical Education, an Executive Master’s in Business Administration and Technology, and most recently became a Canadian Certified Inclusion Professional™. Dr. LeBlanc served in a decanal role for two terms as Associate Dean for Continuing Professional Development at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her scholarship focuses on Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity & Accessibility (EDIA) and medical education with a strong academic track record in these areas. Connie is excited to collaborate with the committee of Deans and tackle important issues in academic medicine for Canadians.

Check out the interview with Connie where she discusses her perspectives and plans as the new President and CEO of the AFMC.

1. What sparked your interest in becoming involved in the work of the AFMC?

As the voice of Academic Medicine in Canada, leading this vibrant organization of educators, researchers and clinicians and support our programs to explore new spaces including that of social accountability. Our role in supporting EDIA, improving the culture of academic medicine, rising to meet the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations and other important facets of medicine in Canada today make this a great challenge and provide the opportunity to make change.

2. As the voice of academic medicine in Canada, what do you see as the biggest challenges for the AFMC?

Healthcare is provincially funded and the Deans of Medicine are geographically distributed and have different needs, so meeting everyone’s needs is not possible. I hope to bring change in areas that are national in scope and to support regional needs as well. Research support for medical science is an area that requires focused attention.

3. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (EDI) are important principles for faculties of medicine in Canada. How do you envision promoting these values within the AFMC’s initiatives?

These are core values for Canadians and moving to seeing race as a social construct across all that we do, integrating trauma-informed care and bringing our very best care to all communities is part of our day job in medicine. Quality eludes us when we fail to keep our patients at the centre of our care processes. Our strategic inclusion of social accountability as a pillar alongside education and research speaks to its importance for Canadians.

4. Working to improve the well-being across faculties of medicine is one of the focusses of the AFMC. In your opinion, what is necessary to improve the culture of academic medicine in Canada?

Providing safe training that allows everyone to belong, as opposed to having to fit in, and work free of intimidation and harassment is important for a physician workforce able to care for others with compassion and empathy. Ensuring that our trainees are respected, supported, and provided with the feedback and support they need to excel academically and personally is essential for their professional identity development.

5. What work being undertaken by the AFMC brings you enthusiasm?

There is no portfolio that I am not enthusiastic about. Some will be more challenging to manage- but perhaps also more rewarding while others deal with topics near and dear to me personally such as EDIA. They all have their own little sparkle!

6. At the end of your term as President and CEO, what legacy would you like to have created?

I think as a national organization of the Deans of Medical Schools it would be ideal to have curricula in important areas of education, research and social accountability that were evidence-based, practical and adaptable to different situations allowing each region to use what works for them. Duplicating curricula content is inefficient, however, no curriculum can meet all needs nationally. I would also be pretty excited to leave graduate students and researchers with better support in our system, a complex but important issue.