Doctors Nova Scotia welcomes new President and President-Elect
Dr. Gary Ernest, of Liverpool, N.S., was installed as Doctors Nova Scotia’s President during the association’s annual conference on Saturday, June 8, 2019 in Halifax.
Dr. Ernest graduated from Dalhousie Medical School in 1980 and completed his family medicine residency in 1982. Following his residency, he moved to Liverpool where he has practised full-scope family medicine for the past 37 years.
Dr. Ernest has been involved in medical politics at the local, provincial and national levels for most of his career. He is an assistant professor of family medicine at Dalhousie University, and has held various roles with DNS, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Medical Association. He has also served two terms as chief of staff at his local hospital.
“The health-care environment in Nova Scotia is currently in a state of crisis,” said Dr. Ernest.
Approximately 100,000 Nova Scotians don’t have a family physician and there are about 200 physician vacancies across the province – for both family physicians and specialists.
“Many of my colleagues are dealing with various levels of burnout, contributed to by a lack of physician engagement, the sense of not being valued, excess workload, fatigue, too much paperwork and frustration at our patients’ inability to access health-care resources in a timely manner,” said Dr. Ernest. “Then there is the problem of adversarial relationships that have resulted in a challenging work environment created by the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the Department of Health and Wellness.”
Dr. Ernest thinks the solution to the crisis lies in the experience and expertise of his colleagues.
“Physicians at all stages of practice want to exercise their leadership skills. Physicians, despite very challenging circumstances, remain committed to providing excellent patient care and they are becoming more vocal about their determination to demonstrate the challenges and opportunities that, if we all worked together, would make our health-care system better.”
The Nova Scotia Health Authority has made moves to engage physicians more. While there is room for improvement, Dr. Ernest says, it’s a good start.
These challenging times have helped bring physicians together to support each other, in their own communities and across the province.
“I’ve been in practice a long time and I’ve witnessed many swings in the curve of physician issues in Nova Scotia. I’m encouraged by the positive swell of energy that I see within our physician community,” said Dr. Ernest. “The key now is to continue the momentum.”
Also on Saturday, Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie was endorsed as President-Elect for 2019-20. She is an obstetrician and gynecologist with South Shore Women’s Health, Bridgewater, N.S. and the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Northern Zone Department Head for Maternal and Child Health. Dr. MacQuarrie graduated from Dalhousie Medical School in 2006. She received her specialty from the Royal College of Physician and Surgeons of Canada in 2011. She has served as Section Chair for the Obstetrics and Gynecology section since 2015 and has been the Section Forum Chair and a member of the DNS Board of Directors since 2016. She will take a leave of absence from her NSHA role for the year she serves as President in 2020-21.