AMS 80th Anniversary

Associated Medical Services: Healthcare Education Innovator

As 2016 comes to a close, we have been busy at Associated Medical Services (AMS) preparing for 2017 and our 80th Anniversary. Having just compiled the AMS history for our new website, we have had considerable time to reflect on all of the impressive ways that AMS has contributed to the healthcare of Canadians and we thought that our supporters might like to know about them.

AMS was founded by Dr. Jason Hannah in 1937 as Canada’s first physician-sponsored, not-for-profit prepaid health care organization. An Ontario-based corporation, AMS served hundreds of thousands of individual subscribers in Ontario. AMS’s role as a health care provider concluded on October 1, 1969 after the province of Ontario joined the national Medicare program. When it concluded, the Government of Ontario permitted the corporation to use its remaining reserve fund for charitable purposes.

The support of scholarly activity in the history of medicine was AMS’s first focus after becoming a Charitable Foundation, as a legacy tribute to founder Dr. Hannah. AMS is a key supporter of the history of medicine and healthcare in Canada, and believes that the understanding of our past is a way to create a better healthcare system for the future. Hannah Chairs have now been established in all six Medical Schools in Ontario, as well as Co-chairs at McGill and the University of Calgary. In 2015, AMS launched The History of Medicine and Healthcare Program, to promote scholarship, teaching and public interest in history of health care, disease and medicine and continues its long time support of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine (CSHM), Canadian Association for the History of Nursing (CAHN) and the History of Medicine Days Conference at the University of Calgary along with many others.

In the late 1980’s AMS’s contribution extended to medical education with a new undertaking known as Educating Future Physicians for Ontario (EFPO) that was based on making undergraduate medical education in Ontario more responsive to the changing needs of society. EFPO was undertaken in partnership with the five Ontario medical faculties and the Government of Ontario. An enduring legacy of EFPO is the CanMEDS Framework (Physician Roles) of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, which has now been adopted by countries on five continents, making it the world’s most recognized competency framework for physicians.

The education focus then shifted to a dedicated initiative on education in care at end of life (“AMS Educational Fellowship in Care at End of Life”) in partnership with five Ontario faculties of medicine, respective academic hospitals and clinical departments and the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO). AMS also established bioethics as a discipline within medical faculties in Canada in the late 1990s and supported young scholars in the field, many of whom are now nationally and internationally recognized leaders.

In June 2011, the Board of Directors of AMS announced an innovative multi-year initiative that focused on making a positive and lasting difference in how health professionals nurture and sustain the learning and practice of compassionate care. The AMS Phoenix Project: A Call to Caring is based on the premise that health professionals provide the best care when they are able to balance human compassion and technical expertise. Since the Project’s inception AMS is pleased to have funded 30 AMS Phoenix Fellows who are making incredible inroads in achieving these goals. As well, each year AMS hosts a Phoenix Invitational Conference where thought leaders come together to exchange ideas on bringing compassion to healthcare.

Looking forward, AMS will be celebrate its 80th Anniversary by hosting an Invitational Symposium titled Canadian Medicare 2017: Historical Reflections, Future Directions on Friday, May 12th. International experts and global thought leaders will come together to learn lessons from history on how to solve present and future challenges in Canadian Medicare. The full day event will include panel presentations, commentaries and dedicated times for facilitated discussions. Symposium proceedings will be published in the Journal of Health Economics, Policy and Law.

Until very recently we had two websites, one for AMS and one for the AMS Phoenix Project. We had a separate AMS Phoenix Facebook Page, Twitter Feed and YouTube Channel. We spoke about the Hannah Chairs on one site and compassion in healthcare on the other. We communicated about our programs and projects as if they were silos. When in fact many of our historians were interested in compassion, and many healthcare professionals found the historical aspects of their professions’ quite engaging. So moving forward we will be communicating to all stakeholders about all things AMS at AMS Healthcare.

It has been an incredibly innovative and interesting 80 years at AMS and we expect the next 80 to be equally so. We look forward to telling you all about it.



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