An Interview with Dr. James Wang—RDBC Board of Directors

Greetings and a big welcome to all of the new residents starting this July! 

July is also our month for nominations and elections for the upcoming year’s Board of Directors. As one of the Directors for this past year, I would like to share a bit of my experience on the Board and answer some commonly asked questions you might be wondering about. I hope you find it helpful and, as always, please feel free to reach out to us here at Resident Doctors of BC if you have any questions. All in all, Resident Doctors of BC is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in the resident community and leadership, and I hope to see your name on the ballot and on future initiatives!

James Wang, MD
PGY-3 Pediatrics Resident

How did you get involved on the RDBC Board of Directors?

During my first year of residency, one of the upper year residents in my program was a board member and he introduced me to what RDBC does, which was a lot more than I had realized. I had always enjoyed being part of student governments and being a voice for my peers, so I ran for the Board of Directors during my second year and was elected. Of course, I had heard about RDBC since the first day of Orientation, but it didn’t really dawn on me how much goes on behind the scenes that impacts the lives of everyday residents like you and me!

What do you do as part of the RDBC Board of Directors?

The Board of Directors is responsible for what I call “navigating,” which involves guiding the organization to a vision of what residency could and should be. This means we do a lot of discussion and debate over various topics, from new ways to streamline reimbursements to taking a public position on current events. Every five years, we have the gargantuan task of negotiating a new contract with the government, which dictates how much residents are paid, how much call-protected time we have, and a slew of other rules and regulations.

What do you like best about being in RDBC?

The people, hands down. We have a fabulous full-time team at RDBC who do everything from answering residents’ phone calls and writing reports to planning social events and meeting with officials. In addition, our Executive Director is the genius behind how our ideas and visions are transformed into actions and results. Because of all the time we spend together working for residents across BC, we have become like a family. We really couldn’t do it without them!

Are there things you hope to see improved in the resident experience?

One of my passions is physician mental health. As physicians, we are one of the highest risk groups for depression and suicide. Residents are no exception. The reality of our situation is that we must pass through these arduous years in order to become the best physicians we can be, but many aspects of residency are unnecessarily stressful and the self-sacrificing culture of medicine at times can be extremely toxic. How can RDBC, as the advocates for resident life, shape policies in our work environment to protect residents’ mental health? That is the billion dollar question!

Are there other ways residents can participate in RDBC?

Thankfully, there are many, many ways for residents to be a part of RDBC. In addition to the Board of Directors, we have a Council of Program Representatives, which is comprised of delegates from each residency program in BC who represent the residents in their program. We also have various committees, such as communications, finance, and health and wellness, which are open to all residents and which carry out projects and events throughout the year. Some residents also sit as observers on the board or as RDBC representatives to external organizations, like UBC. If you are passionate about improving resident life, there is a place for you here!

If you have any questions about the Board, including how to participate, nominations are currently open! For questions, please email info@residentdoctorsbc.ca.

author: Sasha Zalyvadna