The Role of the Medical Director in Ontario Long-Term Care Homes: Impact of COVID-19 Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES: The pandemic has uncovered a broad lack of understanding of the role of the Medical Director in Canadian Long-Term Care (LTC) Homes. Our objectives were to identify the current demographics and practices of LTC Medical Directors, discover how the pandemic affected their practice habits, and inform the content of the Ontario Long-Term Care Clinicians Medical Director Course, to ensure that Medical Directors have the requisite knowledge of the responsibilities of their role. DESIGN: Email survey. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Medical directors in Ontario long-term care homes. METHODS: Responses to open-ended, close-ended, multiple-choice, and free-text questions. RESULTS: A total of 156 medical directors (approximately 24%) completed the survey. Ninety-four percent were family physicians. Approximately 40% of participants had been a medical director for fewer than 5 years, whereas more than 11% have been in the role for greater than 30 years. More than 60% spend fewer than 2 hours per week in their administrative role, with fewer than 23% completing formal evaluations of the attending clinicians. Greater than 75% are either satisfied or extremely satisfied in their medical director role, citing excellent engagement and collaboration with team members. Feelings of dissatisfaction were associated with pandemic stress, increased hours and responsibility, inadequate remuneration, lack of ability to make decisions and lack of acknowledgement that physicians add value to the interdisciplinary team. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: It is clear that medical directors are in a unique position to impact the care of residents within LTC. It is imperative to engage medical directors as integral members of the LTC health care team. This can be achieved by acknowledging their medical expertise for improving outcomes, providing them with the authority for decision making, compensating them appropriately, and clearly defining the role. By making these changes, we can ensure that there is a higher likelihood to sustain effective medical leadership in LTC.


  • Collins, Rhonda L
  • Williams, Evelyn M
  • Moser, Andrea L
  • Varughese, Jobin
  • Robert, Benoît

publication date

  • September 2022