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I feel privileged to be able to begin my tenure as President of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) during such an exciting and important time. Our first highly successful member needs assessment in 2004 elicited truly valuable feedback from a broad range of individuals and provided the framework of our strategic plan for 2007 to 2010. As the national voice for cardiovascular physicians and scientists in Canada, it is critical that the CCS continually monitor the needs and expectations of its members. That is why the CCS executive team is now planning our next member needs exercise, tentatively scheduled to begin this spring. As we look back, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the key accomplishments we have made during the past five years. I am extremely proud of the progress we have made to date in the areas of knowledge translation, member services – particularly for trainees and our community cardiologists – and health policy/advocacy, and I look forward to finding avenues for further improvement.
Ensuring member satisfaction is key to the CCS delivering on its mandate. From the original survey, we learned that the majority of our members are active in an average of three national or international professional organizations and societies. Moreover, it was clear that our members needed us to maintain a Canadian focus, and design programs to recruit and retain cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and cardiovascular researchers. Our researchers produce some of the most significant data and scientific findings despite reduced research budgets compared with their international counterparts. The CCS must support our Canadian researchers and act as a vehicle to showcase this best-in-class work.
The CCS Web site was created so that we could better communicate with the membership, share important information and research findings, and support emerging e-learning initiatives. However, the initial survey results clearly demonstrated that the Web site was not meeting its objectives. We acted on your feedback and have made significant modifications to the site and its content. I am very proud of the result: the CCS Web site now serves as a valuable informational resource, providing both members and nonmembers with a wide range of easy-to-access tools. We will continue to solicit your feedback on the site and its content, and make appropriate improvements as required.
The annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress – jointly hosted by the CCS and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada – is the largest and most important component of our commitment to knowledge translation. Based on member responses, we implemented a major overhaul of the event, including redefining the organizing committee’s roles and responsibilities. We actively engaged attendees to gather feedback both on-site and in postmeeting surveys to ensure year-after-year improvements. I had the pleasure of being personally involved in planning several Congresses during this time and witnessed firsthand those dramatic improvements. Enormous progress has been achieved in the quality of science and research presented at the event, which is reflected in the fact that we continue to welcome a greater number of basic scientists each year. Attendees such as community cardiologists told us that we needed to do more to help them remain up-to-date on the latest patient care information. We listened and increased the emphasis on the learning workshops. The 2009 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Edmonton will include a program on Saturday that is specially designed for community cardiologists to address their unique issues and needs.
We recognize that it is not always possible for our members to travel to the Congress. Similarly, time constraints during the meeting can result in attendees not being able to participate in all sessions of interest. For those individuals, we have made highlighted content from the Congress available online via the Advancing In Cardiovascular Health Web site.
Young people are the life blood of our organization. We have focused on building valuable programs and creating a community for our trainees and young students. The Have a Heart Program bursaries, funded by the CCS Academy, support 15 deserving medical and scientific students to attend the Congress. During the past seven years, we have been able to introduce more than 80 individuals to the world of cardiovascular medicine – many of whom, I am delighted to say, have since moved on to pursue careers in the field.
CCS members also said that health policy advocacy is an important role for their professional organization. The CCS is uniquely poised to act as an influential advocate for improved health policy development in Canada. In this arena, we have focused our efforts on positively impacting access to care, the Canadian Heart Health Strategy, and standards of training and competency. Our organization was one of the founding members of the Wait Times Alliance, in which we continue to work tirelessly to establish nationally recognized benchmarks that ensure equal and timely access to cardiovascular care throughout all provinces. Similarly, we have worked alongside the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on the Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan (CHHS-AP), chaired by Dr Eldon Smith. The CHHS-AP will provide a future road map for heart health from birth until death. Finally, we are in the process of embarking on a review of the standards for training and competency for each of the cardiovascular subspecialties. I look forward to sharing our findings and action plan on this important initiative with you in the near future.
I am very pleased with our achievements thus far, but I am anxious to hear what you think of the progress we have made and what you think we need to focus on in the future. The upcoming member reassessment is a significant component of our strategic planning process and I encourage all of you to participate. This is your opportunity to have your say and be heard. Your feedback is absolutely critical so that we can accurately measure our performance and your degree of satisfaction with our programs, and then chart our course for the next three to four years. In addition to the core programs, such as the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, I am particularly interested in gathering feedback on the CCS Web site and, more specifically, the quality of our e-learning programs. To our nonmember colleagues, I would like to know what we can do to better meet your needs in the coming months and years.
As always, I invite you to contact me via e-mail at ac.scc@tnediserp with any questions, input, ideas or constructive criticism. I pledge to either reply to you personally, or have one of the appropriate members of our Executive Team or CCS staff respond to you directly.