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Alumni Profile

Mapping out a future for the medical profession in Canada

Alumni News Magazine | Fall/Winter 2020

Dr. Ann Collins (BSc’80) was just five or six years old when she decided she was going to be a doctor. She credits her father, who recognized certain qualities in her that would lend themselves well to the medical profession.

The oldest of eight children from Boiestown, NB, Dr. Collins was a natural leader, and had a clear path in mind for her future when she travelled down the road to UNB to begin a bachelor of science program. “It was a challenging experience at first, being from such a small community and a close family,” she remembers. She adjusted quickly, however, gearing her courses at UNB toward applying to medical school and pursuing that medical dream.

A 1985 graduate of Dalhousie University, she completed a rotating internship in Toronto through the Medical Officer Training Plan (MOTP) and then served three years with the Canadian Armed Forces in Kingston, ON, before returning to Fredericton to open a family practice in 1989.

Over the next 31 years, Dr. Collins experienced many sides of medicine, serving for more than two decades as medical director at Fredericton’s Pine Grove Nursing Home, working part-time in the hospital emergency department and teaching in Dalhousie University’s faculty of medicine, all while running her family practice.

In August, Dr. Collins took on a new challenge as president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), only the ninth woman elected to the role in the organization’s 153-year history. She’s no stranger to policy work and advocacy for the profession, having served as both president and chair of the board of directors for the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) and spent seven years as the New Brunswick representative on the CMA board of directors.

Being a strong voice for physicians and patients at a critical time for the profession is a key priority for Dr. Collins. “If anything, this pandemic has highlighted cracks that existed in our health care system and the urgency in addressing them to protect health professionals, as well as patients.”

One of the key drivers to taking on the presidency with the CMA hits close to home for her.

“Access to primary care – and the evolving needs of the profession in general - is a critical issue in New Brunswick and across Canada. Young physicians have a different perspective than we used to and we need to evolve our system to providing a more rounded team-based approach to primary care.”

“As we look to the future of our profession and in a post-COVID-19 world, we need to figure out now what the future of health and health care is and how we deliver on that commitment.”

Dr. Collins says that during her mandate with CMA she’ll be working on a far-reaching strategic planning initiative to shape and innovate health care over the next 20 years.

“Within a single day I’m faced with many important issues, such as systemic racism, equity and diversity, as well as quality long-term care and youth mental health resourcing. There are a lot competing issues, and I’m excited and honoured to be able to help shape recommendations and policies that could hopefully solve them.”

Because of the pandemic, most of her work is done virtually from her home in Fredericton.

“I’m so privileged to be part of a wonderful community and profession. My husband, John – who has always been involved in so many volunteer facets of our of our community - has been an inspiration on the importance of giving back. I hope that my decision to move to this next phase in my career will allow me to do that in an even bigger way.”

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