W34 – The Evolving Role of Canadian Psychiatrists: Opportunities and Challenges in a Post-Pandemic Health Care System

W34 – The Evolving Role of Canadian Psychiatrists: Opportunities and Challenges in a Post-Pandemic Health Care System

Friday, Oct. 28
15:45 – 16:45 (1 hr)
Meeting Room: Chestnut (Mezzanine)
Alison Freeland*, MD, FRCPC, CCPE; Sarah Jarmain, MD, FRCPC; Sanjay Siddhartha, MD, FRCPC; Gary Chaimowitz, MBChB, FCPA, FRCPC

CanMEDS Roles:

  1. Leader
  2. Health Advocate
  3. Medical Expert

At the end of this session, participants will be able to: 1) Appreciate the impact of health system transformation on the role of psychiatrists; 2) Understand the rapid accelaration of change to psychiatric practice as a result of the COVID pandemic; and 3) Discuss the need to evolve and redefine the role of psychiatrists within the future Canadian health care landscape.

Mental health system change over the past few years has significantly impacted psychiatric practice. Benefits have included an increase in evidence-based treatment, a focus on team-based collaborative care, and more advocacy for the needs of vulnerable populations. However, psychiatrists have at times felt marginalized within a system of care, where there can be ambiguity and tension regarding the roles and responsibilities of different health care providers and where they have at times experienced their own expertise and training as being undervalued.

Overlaying these challenges are the rapid changes brought by COVID, which have shifted the method of care delivery from in person to virtual, impeded mental health promotion and illness prevention, and highlighted many of the barriers to accessing care for vulnerable populations.

As Canada slowly emerges from the pandemic, delivery of psychiatric care will continue to change. Psychiatrists will need to adapt their skills and competencies to an altered health care landscape to ensure their essential role within mental health care teams. This evolution should include a conceptual understanding of quality improvement and innovation; the role of population health and big data in health services methodology; comfort and competence in using health technologies; competence in health system co-design with patients and families; and a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

This workshop will review the impact of health system change and the COVID pandemic on psychiatric practice and explore new competencies essential to psychiatrists remaining relevant in a rapidly evolving health care system.


  1. Bhugra D, Tasman A, Pathare S, et al. The WPA-Lancet Psychiatry commission on the future of psychiatry. The Lancet Psychiatry 2017;4:775–818.
  2. Bojdani E, Rajagopalan A, Chen A, et al. COVID-19 pandemic: impact on psychiatric care in the United States. Psychiatry Res 2020;289:113069.