My first prairie summer

July 31, 2014

To the College of Medicine Community:

I hope all of you are having plenty of opportunity to enjoy this beautiful prairie summer.  I certainly see why many of you tell me you only travel as far as the lake in the summer in Saskatchewan.  On the other hand, I still get many hints I should save my Aeroplan points for later in the year, but as they say we will cross that bridge…

I have had further chance to enjoy that prairie summer and landscape as I have visited our students, residents, staff and faculty members in Moose Jaw and Prince Albert. In fact on Monday this week I had a chance to ride my motorcycle, a Yamaha Stratoliner (the marketers had me pegged with this classic, albeit metric, cruiser) to PA and discover the real meaning of wide-open highway and big sky! It was a wonderful ride.

However, better than that were the warm welcomes I received and the evidence I saw of enthusiastic staff, faculty and happy learners.  In PA I saw a clearly well established site for learners and a very supportive and engaged health authority with the able faculty leadership of Dr. Annelie Janse Van Rensburg and Dr. Tom Smith Windsor.   In Moose Jaw I saw again a supportive hospital and was impressed by the enthusiasm and excitement of faculty and staff under the leadership of Dr. Volker Rinisland. Earlier this month, they welcomed their first FM residents to our newest training site and we’ll be joining them for a celebratory launch event later in the fall.

While I saw great enthusiasm and superb clinical teaching resources in those communities, I also saw great opportunity to improve upon the infrastructure and organization of our approach to distributed medical education. In the fall we will be launching a major project to develop a strategic plan for DME at the CoM,  supported by a comprehensive DME business plan.

In this month’s issue of Academic Medicine Olle ten Cate, a widely respected medical educator at Utrect in the Netherlands, asks “What is a 21st-Century Doctor? Rethinking the Medical Degree”. This is a particularly apt discussion as we embark on our new UGME 2+2 curriculum. The last 10 years has seen a worldwide explosion of work addressing this very question with in-depth analyses including the Future of Medical Education in Canada (FMEC) Projects by the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada.

I would also like to draw your attention to the work led by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in collaboration with the College of Family Physicians of Canada to develop CanMEDS 2015. The second draft of this major revision to the curricular framework that underpins PGME is now available and your feedback is welcome. Canadians should be proud of innovations in medical education, and CanMEDS in particular, as it has probably seen the widest international adoption of a template for medical education since the preclinical/clinical format originating with Canadian, Dr. William Osler, at John Hopkins at the beginning of the last century.

There are a number of notable proposed alterations in CanMEDS 2015 including changing the Manager role to Leader.  More important though is the integration into the framework of the move towards competency-based medical education and the adoption of detailed “milestones” for each of the roles at five stages of medical education: junior medical student, senior medical student, junior resident, senior resident and practicing physician.  I encourage you to visit the CanMEDS 2015 portal ( and provide your feedback.

I would like to congratulate and thank all of our College of Medicine faculty members who have contributed to date to this very important work. The project has involved two principle committees and 13 Expert Working Groups and U of S faculty members have had prominent roles. I would like to recognize our colleagues, Drs. Deirdre Bonnycastle, Anita Chakravarti, Kathy Lawrence, Vivian Ramsden, and Anurag Saxena. To care for one patient well is to improve one life, to teach well is to improve many, but to impact medical education as a whole around the world is no small accomplishment.

So, now that I have successfully made the move from the Maritimes and spent a couple of months getting to know the CoM and many of you, Jane and I, together with Murphy (our Springer Spaniel) plan to take two weeks of vacation and explore more of Saskatchewan. I will be back to welcome our newest UGME students mid-August and dive into all the work we need to accomplish this fall and winter prior to the accreditation visits in May.

I look forward to working with you as we advance our College of Medicine together. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Here’s to continued sunny prairie skies!