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Q: Who Is the AMS?

Associated Medical Services (AMS) was founded and incorporated in 1937 by Dr. Jason Hannah as Canada’s first physician‐sponsored, not‐for‐profit prepaid health care organization. When AMS’s role as a healthcare provider ceased with the birth of OHIP, the Ontario Government permitted the corporation to use its remaining reserve fund for charitable purposes. That reserve fund, established from subscriber subscriptions, became the source of AMS’s income as a self‐funded charity.

Q: What contributions has the AMS made to the advancement of health and health care in Canada?

Associated Medical Services (AMS) has an impressive history of contributing to the advancement of the health and healthcare of Canadians by acting as a catalyst for improvements in health professional education, and scholarship in medicine and healthcare. The major priority areas that AMS has supported include scholarship in the history of medicine and health, bioethics, end of life care, and medical education (e.g., the AMS Educating Future Physicians for Ontario Project).

The initial focus of AMS charity was to support scholarly activity in the history of medicine: chairs in the history of medicine, which continue today at five of the Ontario faculties of medicine/health sciences, and the Hannah Institute which administered grants and awards in the history of medicine. Subsequently, these efforts extended to the support of a number of initiatives in the history of nursing and other health professions. AMS also contributed to the advancement of the health and healthcare of Canadians in the areas of bioethics, end of life care, and medical education. In the latter domain, AMS created in the 1990s Educating Future Physicians for Ontario (AMS EFPO) a project that has had a lasting impact on the nature of medical education and a generation of physicians in Ontario. This seminal work lives on as the foundation of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada CanMEDS framework. For the most part, the initiatives funded by AMS have had significant impact and have made a positive and lasting difference.

Q: How Did the AMS Phoenix Project: A Call to Caring Come About?

In the summer of 2009, the Board of Directors of Associated Medical Services (AMS) began extensive discussions to identify an initiative that would have significant impact and make a positive and lasting difference on how health professionals care for people. Over a two year period the AMS consulted widely with organizations and individuals, reviewed the literature and hosted major forums. These activities informed the Board’s emerging vision of what it wanted to accomplish, why and how. A key decision made by the AMS was that it wanted to work with partners (educators, health professionals, workplaces and others) to develop a high profile initiative that would have significant impact and make a positive and lasting difference on how health professionals care for people.

It decided that it wanted to focus on person-centred care in response to the growing evidence suggesting that medical, nursing students and other health professional, working in high‐pressure clinical environments, experience culture shock trying to balance the demands of applying their scientific knowledge with the desire to care for their patients in a humane and compassionate way. This disconnect is one factor that can lead to confusion, unsafe patient care, and high levels of work‐related stress.

Q: How Is the Project Linked to Current Priorities in the Health System?

This work by AMS and its partners:

  • Supports Ontario’s Bill 46 (Excellent Care for All Act, 2010) which highlights patient‐centred care as one key element of a high quality healthcare system.
  • Supports HealthForce Ontario’s priority on healthy work environments, especially in the areas of respect in the workplace and leadership development.
  • Supports the CanMEDS “professional” role which includes enabling competencies such as “appropriate professional behaviours in practice including honesty, integrity, commitment, compassion, respect and altruism.”
  • Aligns with the Association of Faculties of Medicine in Canada’s proposed future direction for medical education.