We are so pleased that Dr. Peter Tzakas has joined our team as the Director of our Residency Program. Enjoy this brief interview with Peter, as he shares his journey in family medicine and thoughts about the future of The Residency Practice-Based Learning Program (PBLP).
Q: You have an extensive background, what have been some of the highlights for you?
A: I originally studied medicine at the University of Birmingham, UK and interned at Imperial College, Northwest London Deanery, UK. This was an incredible experience before coming back to Canada to complete my Family Medicine residency training at the University of Toronto, Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) site (formerly known as Toronto East General Hospital).
After graduation, I started working at MGH in primary care in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Currently, I practice at the Family Medicine Department as the Family Medicine Site Program Director and the Director of Medical Education at MGH. I am also an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and Program Director for the UofT/NOSM/Michener Physician Assistant Program. Needless to say, I am always on the go.
Q: What drew you to family medicine as your area of speciality?
A: I always had an interest in family medicine because you’re not limited to just seeing a certain segment of people—you get to follow them throughout their whole lives. I trained in England, where they are very family medicine-based, also my medical school was similar in its educational approach. I enjoy seeing patients in clinics, in the hospital where family doctors also work, and doing home visits. This allows me to experience the whole spectrum of patients and their families. I have entire families of forty to fifty people who I get to see their lives and their healthcare from different aspects. It’s truly rewarding, rather than just seeing them one time for a specific issue.
Q: What attracted you to become part of the FMPE team?
A: The Foundation has a well-established program with an excellent reputation. I truly appreciate the mission and values of the organization—module development that is created by family physicians for family physicians in order to make improvements in their practice. It’s a great model and a huge benefit to members.
It also helps to build a continuum of practice for groups of doctors, and possibly family doctors that you work with over years. Through the modules you discuss current issues with your practice, simultaneously building a community that is supportive over the long-term.
Q: What are some of your initial thoughts regarding the Residency Program?
A: I think it’s about continuing to build connections that we have with all the universities across Canada, working with them to meet their needs. I’d like to see the Residency Program embrace technological advancements. More and more residency students are using current technology. So, it’s important that we keep up-to-date and understand how students are accessing their information and possible continuing education opportunities.
It’s also about getting the buy-in from residents so that they continue to understand and believe in what the FMPE program can offer them that will be of benefit to their futures. I would like to impress on them the importance of practice change, trying to commit to change, and then the ability to build their own community of practice.
The first five years as a family doctor is hard, especially post-pandemic, with limited resources across the country. So being able to offer a network of peers and like-minded individuals is paramount. Many will find that they don’t have regular opportunities to debrief and talk about changes in evidence-based medicine. Small group learning can offer that safe space to exchange ideas.
I think this is an exciting time for FMPE and its Residency Program, and I am so pleased to now be a part of its growth. In the past year alone, The Foundation has made huge advances in the sector. We now have the Pathway To Small Group Learning, Online Interactive Modules, and Practice Improvement Activity, just to name a few initiatives.
We live in a fast paced society with an ever evolving landscape in medicine. I believe that through our evidence-based programs we can offer physicians up-to-date best practices and help them in managing patients on a day-to-day basis.