175 years ago, to date, the Board of Directors of the brand new College of Physicians and Surgeons of Lower Canada met for the first time. It was September 15, 1847. A few months earlier, the College was born from the desire of several hundred doctors to preside over the profession and help it to evolve.
The creation of the College coincides with a pivotal moment in the history of medicine. This is the beginning of the clinical revolution. We therefore stop considering diseases as “mood disorders” and adopt a quantitative approach, based on the observation of clinical signs. From now on we will count the pulse, we will measure the blood sugar level, we will measure the body temperature using a thermometer … The techniques of palpation and auscultation will be developed, as well as a series of medical instruments. From time to time, these tools and approaches will be refined, in step with scientific knowledge and technological progress.
In 175 years, therefore, medicine has come a long way! Our College has also come a long way. From 190 doctors in the beginning, it now has around 25,000 members! Its mission has remained essentially the same. The action of the College has always aimed at providing the public with quality medicine that is as accessible as possible. The definition of standards for admission to the profession, the creation of a code of ethics and a disciplinary council, professional inspection, the management of public complaints, the fight against charlatans and disinformation are just some of the means put in place. to achieve this over time.
In recent years, the College has made an important change to get closer to the population. New communication platforms have been implemented to foster dialogue, both with the public and with our members. Our links with various partners and organizations have been strengthened. The College is more present, more visible. His voice resonates most in the public space, with strong positions taken on a variety of health-related issues.
But much remains to be done. There are many challenges within our healthcare network. Improve access to care, especially for vulnerable people, optimize inter-professional collaboration, better plan physician retirements and secure succession, promote family medicine, make the shift towards eco-responsibility, fight racism and discrimination, monitoring the use of telemedicine … these are some of the problems that will keep us busy in the coming years!
So many pages remain to be written in this great history book! As carried by a new life, the College will continue its work with passion and determination, fully invested in its social responsibility. In step with science and society, we will continue to evolve, while remaining true to our primary mission: to protect the public by providing quality medicines. This will continue to guide all of our decisions and actions for the next 175 years!
Mauril Gaudreault, MD President of the College of Physicians of Quebec