Opinion: Universities are essential to the reform of the Quebec health system
On March 29, the Minister of Health and Social Services (MSSS) tabled his plan for implementing changes to the health care system, focusing on four themes: human resources, access to data, information and the modernization of infrastructures.
For Quebec’s faculties of medicine, which train future health professionals, the overhaul of the health system depends above all on the training of nursing staff, the promotion of primary care and investment in teaching and research.
TRAINING HEALTH PROFESSIONALS: AN URGENT NEED
The pandemic has highlighted staff shortages, particularly in nursing and medicine. While the lack of family doctors, the impending retirement of a large number of staff and the difficulties in accessing primary care have been the subject of numerous public declarations, many specialties are also seriously understaffed.
Close collaboration between faculties of medicine and policymakers is essential to properly plan the training of the workforce in the decades to come in all sectors.
At the request of the MSSS, faculties of medicine will significantly increase the capacity of their programs: by 2025, medical admissions will increase to 1,050 per year, an increase of 26.5% since 2019. These increases, combined with the impact of the pandemic, increase the workload in our campus and clinical teaching facilities.
CHANGING PRIMARY CARE
Another aspect of improving access to care deserves special attention: strengthening the first line through inter-professionalism. The training of the next generation must be done in close collaboration with all stakeholders in all disciplines related to patient care.
This new teaching model will require a collective effort by faculties, in collaboration with the MSSS, to promote the importance of front-line and patient care models, which involve a more sustained commitment from all health professions.
The reform should emphasize a more humane and humane organization of health care. Medical schools are already advocating for more active patient involvement, using the “patient-partner” approach, where the patient is central and part of shared decision-making.
This approach improves and humanizes care, while advancing practices through social innovation and research.
We must not forget the role universities play as drivers of change and innovation through basic, clinical and population-based research. If the work of teacher-researchers can sometimes take time to bear fruit, the creation of new knowledge is essential to meet societal challenges.
Consider the RNA biology that underpins COVID-19 vaccines, or the AI algorithms and their multiple applications, discovered through decades of work in neutral, independent research facilities.
The Quebec scientific community must be able to count on universities to pursue research in areas not explored by industry.
INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE
For two centuries, faculties of medicine have been major players in the Quebec health network. Major changes in medical practice initiated by our faculty members have enabled teaching hospitals to develop modern infrastructure. These recent developments have had a significant impact on the quality of training provided to our students and on the care provided to the population.
Much remains to be done to modernize hospital and university infrastructures, which are often obsolete.
Improving training, increasing the number of students, maintaining and developing research teams require major investments in infrastructure.
We are pleased to see that staff training is at the top of the 50 measures included in the reform plan and substantial investments have been announced to modernize health infrastructures.
It is crucial that Minister Dubé take into account the needs of universities in his action plan and that he continue the dialogue with our governing bodies, in collaboration with the Minister of Higher Education, so that we can continue to pursue our mission of building knowledge and preparing new generations to meet the health needs of society.
Dr. Patrick Cossette, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Montreal and President of the Conference of Deans of the Faculties of Medicine of Quebec of the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire
- Dr. Dominique Dorion, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the Université de Sherbrooke
- Dr. David Eidelman, Vice-Principal (Health Affairs)
- Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at McGill University
- Dr. Julien Poitras, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Laval University.