Sandy Buchman installed as 152nd president of Canadian Medical Association: André Picard
2019-08-10 from theglobeandmail.com
When Sandy Buchman was a teenager, back in the ’70s, he was so bored with high school that he dropped out.
Then, along with a group of like-minded, eager-to-learn dropouts, he started his own school, Nohant West, in Toronto’s Jane-Finch neighbourhood.
Inspired by the artistic retreat of French author George Sand, it was a free-spirited institution where students biked to Stratford to study King Lear, and university professors donated their time to teach calculus in the local library.
That kind of problem-solving and self-directed learning impressed the leadership of the fledgling McMaster University medical school, which was doing its part to reinvent medical education. Soon enough, he graduated as Dr. Buchman.
On Sunday, the young rebel, with almost 40 years of experience under his belt, was installed as the 152nd president of the Canadian Medical Association.
Ever the outlier, Dr. Buchman is a family physician at the head of a group dominated by specialists. He works full-time in palliative care, doing home visits and working with the homeless, another anomaly. He is also one of the few palliative-care doctors who will provide patients with medically assisted death.
Dr. Buchman said he is guided by a straightforward principle, “You don’t abandon your patients.”
It was a lesson he learned as a young doctor when one of his patients developed AIDS at a time when the virus had not even yet been identified.
He learned as much as he could about the new disease and that brought him to volunteer in Africa and South America, and then to focus increasingly on working with low-income communities in Toronto.
“Being a doctor is privileged work. But your patients teach you, and they got me thinking: What is my moral obligation to give back?” he said.
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