When prospective physicians take the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I, the questions they answer are developed by Canadian physicians who face the reality of integrated and interprofessional care every day.
This reality is exemplified by Dr. Marie Hayes, who brings her dedication as Co-Owner and Medical Director of the Clinique de santé Jacques-Cartier in Sherbrooke, Québec, to her role as Vice-chair of the Psychiatry Test Committee for the MCCQE Part I.
Treating the whole person
Dr. Hayes, a family physician, has been interested in mental health throughout her career. During her residency in family medicine at the Montreal General Hospital, she did a residency in psychiatry working with patients with severe, persistent mental illness. She feels she got excellent exposure and teaching, which prepared her well for her practice. As a rural physician in Shawville, Québec, during her early career, she continued to gain experience helping patients with psychological issues and psychiatric illness on her own or with the collaboration of social workers and psychologists, as specialized psychiatric services were in short supply.
When we address health problems with a person, we’re looking at both physical and mental health. Mental health problems must not be stigmatized or separated from a person’s general health. We also need to look at the impact of physical health on a person’s mental health — that’s a concern and priority for all family physicians.”
Dr. Marie Hayes,
Family Physician and Vice-chair of the
Psychiatry Test Committee for the MCCQE Part I
“This feeds into changes in testing for the MCCQE Part I,” Dr. Hayes points out. She says the Psychiatry Test Committee’s approach has evolved continuously to reflect this integration in the examination.
“It’s a lot of fun to develop questions, and there’s a lot of creativity involved,” she adds. “When we’re able to reflect real-life practice and issues we face in medical practice in the questions that we write, that’s very satisfying.”
She explains that question development is a collaborative effort, involving all members of the Committee and the Test Development Officers on staff at the MCC. As a result, “a question evolves and may end up being very different from how it started.”
She says the Committee is very diverse, representing different areas of Canada and different types of practice. “Everybody brings the flavour of their region or their area of medical care and experience where they work.”
Return to her home town
Dr. Hayes works in a mid-sized city, with just over 160,000 residents according to the 2016 census. However, her clinic serves a large rural area, with both a francophone and anglophone population. Thus, Sherbrooke reflects some of the diversity of Canada.
It’s a community Dr. Hayes knows well, having grown up in Sherbrooke before leaving for her medical education at the University of Ottawa. Twenty years ago, she returned to her home town to care for aging parents and never left. She and her husband have raised their three daughters there.
As a Co-Owner of her clinic, she enjoys administration and emphasizes the fact that a well-organized workplace is important for many reasons, one of which is the evolution to interprofessional care. “You have to have the right person giving the care. We have good collaboration with nurses, nurse practitioners, as well as social workers, pharmacists, psychologists and other professionals on the team.”
She believes that integrated, interprofessional care is the future for Canadian primary care. “Everything is so much more complex now, so we have to learn to work together for the patient’s benefit.”