We’re on our way

After nine months into my deanship here at the CoM, I wanted to take a step back with our team to see how we are doing and where we are going. Personally, I feel tremendous support, energy and enthusiasm for our programs and our direction; but a desire to accomplish much more change even faster. I wanted to validate these impressions and ensure our leadership team was on board for the next phase.

Last fall, I had arranged for two very experienced deans – Dr. Brian Postl from the University of Manitoba and Dr. Catharine Whiteside, who just finished as dean at the University of Toronto – to visit and review our college.

Between them, they have nearly 20 years of decanal experience, and have been through reviews and accreditation visits at most medical schools in Canada. I asked them to review our strategic plan, The Way Forward, and our operations – the business of running the medical school – as well as our research enterprise.  This had nothing to do with accreditation per se and nothing to do with curriculum or our education programs.

Drs. Postl and Whiteside spent two days with us on February 2nd and 3rd. They were provided all kinds of advance reading and had many interviews with the deanery, department heads, administrative leadership, health region leadership, government partners and senior university leadership. I’m told their questions and insights were very perceptive and helpful.

In essence their advice was:

  • you are on the right track
  • your overall plan is consistent with the way Canadian medical schools are organizing themselves
  • you need many more clinical faculty with dedicated time
  • you need to distribute budget and accountability to education units and departments
  • you need to implement your strategic plan for research (Toward 2020)

Bottom line, we have a great college, substantial resources and great opportunity.

Using their advice and The Way Forward as background, we convened a Senior Leadership Retreat on Feb 26 & 27. On Thursday evening, we had dinner with Mr. Dan Florizone, CEO of SHR, as keynote speaker. He spoke very strongly of his commitment to the academic mission of SHR, a strong partnership with the CoM, and our education and research mandates. Also of note, It was a great start.

On Friday morning, we focused on our strategic plan and our operations and a great turnout of over 40 people including deanery, department heads, administrative leaders, and representation from our campuses in Regina and Prince Albert. It was encouraging to see representation from across the province and I am hoping to grow this level of involvement at future events.  I also want to be sure we do more to encourage involvement from community physicians and build engagement with them by actively seeking their perspectives.  I provided some remarks on academic leadership and we got down to work.

We had focused discussions on the One Faculty Model, Medical Leadership and Processes, Medical Education Resources and Methodologies, and RHA/MoH Relationships. There was great support for moving to the One Faculty Model, improving and extending the academic leadership throughout the province, a distributed model of budget and accountability and above all a message of let’s get on with it!

In the afternoon we were joined by seven  of our leading researchers. Dr. Gordon McKay, Interim Vice-Dean, Research, led off followed by short vignettes by each of the researchers about their programs. We then had a presentation about progress and plans for research at U of S by Dr. Karen Chad and after the break, continued with small group work on ideas for advancing our research mission.

The event demonstrated that we are doing a lot in research and certainly more than we receive credit for. On the other hand, there were lots of ideas for change and investments brought forward that will need to be done if we are to succeed in our goal of becoming the best small medical school in Canada in the next 5 years.

Overall the event was a tremendous success.

I have participated in a lot of these events and I have never seen this level of enthusiasm, energy and engagement. Don’t get me wrong – there was discussion and debate and not everyone agreed with everything. As I have said, as we move forward we must be both relentless and flexible. But for me the most exciting thing I saw was a team united around a direction and enthusiasm to get on with it.

If you want more details talk to your colleagues that were there or stop me in the halls to discuss. Remember my door is always open.

I also need to say this was the best organized retreat I was ever at. It will become an annual event. In that regard I must congratulate and give great praise to my entire administrative team but in particular Sinead McGartland, our Senior Project Leader who planned both the deans’ visit and the retreat,  Darla Wyatt, our Events Coordinator, and our Facilitator, Laura Saporio. And thanks in particular to Mr. Dan Florizone from SHR, Dr. Dave McCutcheon and Carole Klassen from RQHR, and all of the great participants.

Of course we do all this while continuing to diligently prepare for our May 10-12 accreditation visit. I say this to remind everyone we need your active participation and efforts as we prepare.  Athena McConnell, Kevin Siebert and others are working hard to prepare the documentation. In particular, I want to congratulate the Department of Medicine on the scoreboard they have up tracking compliance with knowledge of objectives, timely feedback and completion of assessments.

We’re on our way – let’s get on with it!