May 31st, 2021

// Dr. Adam Kassam becomes president of the Ontario Medical Association

Dr. Adam Kassam becomes president of the Ontario Medical Association

TORONTO, May 29, 2021 /CNW/ - Dr. Adam Kassam became the 140th president of the Ontario Medical Association today, the youngest president in the association's history, the first physiatrist and first Ismaili Muslim.

Dr. Kassam's induction as president for a one-year term took place during the first Annual General Meeting following sweeping governance changes approved last fall.

Dr. Kassam said the three priorities for his presidency were advocating for physicians, working with partners to rebuild the health-care system after the pandemic, and modernizing the OMA to make it an even more transparent, accountable and effective organization for the province's 43,000 physicians.

"Through the hundreds of conversations I've had with doctors across Ontario this past year, whether in the hospital or clinic, during our vaccination drives or over Zoom, I have been inspired by your advocacy, work and sacrifice," Dr. Kassam said in his first presidential address. "Through it all, you have shown all of Ontario what can be accomplished through collaboration, compassion and courage. These are the key principles – the three Cs – that will underpin my work during my term as president."

The OMA's two-day meeting is being held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as was last year's final meeting of the OMA Council. The 250 member-elected delegate Council is being replaced with a leaner General Assembly as part of governance changes aimed at making the OMA the most effective and modern organization possible. The weekend will conclude with an orientation session of the new General Assembly.

Dr. Kassam, who is 33, works as a physiatrist – a rehabilitation specialist -- and clinical associate at Runnymede Healthcare Center and Athlete's Care in Toronto and is a faculty lecturer at the University of Toronto's Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. His clinical practice focuses on musculoskeletal and neurological rehabilitation of patients who have had muscle, bone or nerve injuries. 

Dr. Kassam was born and raised in Toronto, the son of a Kenyan mother and Tanzanian father. He is the first in his immediate family to graduate from university and become a doctor. He received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University, where he majored in neurobiology, and holds an MD from Dartmouth Medical School and a master's degree in public health from Columbia University. He completed his residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Western University.

Dr. Kassam succeeds Dr. Samantha Hill as OMA president.  Dr. Hill's accomplishments as president included raising the profile and voice of physicians with the public, government and stakeholders to new heights. During her tenure she did about 350 media interviews, the majority of which focused on providing accurate information about COVID.  She also made equity, diversity and inclusion a pillar of her presidency, which included a groundbreaking report showing a substantial pay gap exists between male and female physicians. Dr. Hill will continue to serve the OMA as past-president. 

"They say, 'Let no crisis be wasted.' COVID was and is an international crisis of epic proportions, which presented opportunities to showcase members to the public, raise physician street cred, and promote awareness of all the ways you help Ontarians," Dr. Hill said in her farewell address. "COVID presented opportunities to reinforce the need for physician leadership in addressing health-care initiatives such as Ontario Health Teams, vaccinations, mental health and acute and chronic care backlogs. Sadly, COVID also presented an opportunity to raise the spectre of gender and race inequity within the profession and health care as a whole. All these opportunities came at tragic costs paid in human lives and human suffering. They could not be wasted, and I like to think we didn't."

"I want to thank Dr. Samantha Hill for her outstanding term as president," said OMA CEO Allan O'Dette. "Dr. Hill was a tireless advocate for Ontario's physicians and played a key leadership role in the governance transformation work that will make the OMA a more effective, efficient and agile association."

In late April, OMA members chose Dr. Rose Zacharias to be their president-elect. She is the first president-elect chosen directly by OMA members. Previously, the OMA Council has made the final choice.

Dr. Zacharias is a family physician who for the last 20 years has practiced both as an emergency room physician, medical and psychiatry hospitalist and surgical assistant.  Primarily, she has been based at Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, with a recent transition to Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care where she also leads wellness initiatives for physicians.   She has been a member of the OMA Board of Directors and the OMA Governance and Nominating Committee.  Dr. Zacharias will work closely with Dr. Kassam throughout his presidency.  

About the OMA

The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario's 43,000-plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario's health-care system.

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association

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