Dr. Fung appointed as PMH’s new Chief Medical Officer

Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2024 09:14

The Swan Valley has been known for turning out some of the best and most recognized physicians in Manitoba. At the start of the year, former Valley physician Dr. Adrian Fung started as Prairie Mountain Health’s (PMH) new Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Fung was drawn into medicine due to his love of helping people.
“I was attracted to medicine, and becoming a physician specifically because I wanted to help make a difference to those who I felt needed it most,” said PMH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Fung. “I spent time volunteering at the children’s hospital in Edmonton during my university training and loved being able to be there to help the patients as much as possible, even in my limited capacity at the time of being a volunteer.
“As you can probably guess from my volunteering experience, I initially went into medicine intending to become a pediatrician. After spending time in each specialty while at school I discovered that I actually liked all of them, and so ended up choosing to do as many specialties as I could at once; I decided to become a rural general practitioner.
“I went to university at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and then to medical school at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland,” said Dr. Fung.
Working in a rural setting was instrumental in the experience, training and knowledge that Dr. Fung had acquired at the start of his career. Not only did he become trained in different aspects of healthcare, but it also set him up for leadership as well.
“I think that there is a lot to be said for gaining experience as a rural physician,” said Dr. Fung. “Practicing in a rural area requires a physician to use all of their knowledge, and to rely heavily on clinical skills and acumen, rather than on having every investigation and specialty available nearby. When I started my practice in Swan River, I wished to fulfill my original goal as a rural physician who could do a bit of every specialty as part of my practice.
“What I gained beyond this was an opportunity to be a physician leader and an appreciation for the incredible amount of community collaboration towards improved healthcare that occurs in rural communities. I was able to see what advocating as a group of physicians can accomplish with the help of strong community support to improve healthcare delivery.
“Overall, living and working in Swan River helped me become a well-rounded physician, gave me experience in physician leadership, and built-in me an understanding and appreciation for how much positive change we can make when we work collaboratively together as physicians, health care workers, communities, and as a region,” said Dr. Fung.
Dr. Fung accredits his time in the Valley to fostering his leadership skills. Once he had left the area, it opened the doors to big roles in leadership within the RHA.
“I gained my first experience in physician leadership in Swan River,” said Dr. Fung. “I was in that role for about six years total, and while in that role I gained a better understanding of how community needs are addressed, what we can do as physicians to help advocate for our communities, and how we as a community fit into the larger picture of our entire health region.
“After I moved to Brandon, an opportunity arose to take on a larger leadership role as the Interim Associate Chief Medical Officer for PMH. I thought I may be able to use the skills and experience I gained from Swan River to help advocate for my rural physician colleagues and the rural communities within PMH. In this position, I found the needs of our region to be complex and generally desperate. I had a lot to learn about every community in a short time, but I enjoyed learning.
“During this short period, I thought that the Chief Medical Officer position would benefit from a rural physician’s experience and perspective, and it seemed that PMH agreed,” said Dr. Fung.“I officially became the Chief Medical Officer for PMH on January 1, 2024. I’m new to the role, and most looking forward to creating discussion and dialogue to create positive change within not just PMH but Manitoba as a whole.”
Dr. Fung finds that being the Chief Medical Officer is just a heightened aspect of being a physician. He now finds himself thinking about staffing and the care of patients on a much broader level, rather than one patient at a time.
“The responsibilities largely differ in scope rather than in principle,” said Dr. Fung. “The Chief Medical Officer is required to be a physician, and as such always views decisions from the lens of improving patient care, and advocating for your patients. The added largest complexity is that the scale is at the size of an entire health region rather than that of an individual practice, and representing these interests at provincial level discussions.
“To further add to this complexity, the needs of the patient need to be well balanced with the needs of the physicians, and how this fits with the rest of the provincial picture, especially in this time of staffing shortages. There is a very high risk of physician burnout at this time, and hospital visits are increasing as the ability to access primary care has decreased. This is certainly a challenging time for everyone, and I commend our physicians and our communities for all that they have done and continue to do.”



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