Using a Project Management Approach to further DME in SK

I would like to introduce Sinead McGartland as our guest blogger this week. Sinead is our Senior Project Leader and she comes to us after three years of experience as the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Academic Health Sciences Network. Many in the province tell me attracting Sinead to this position is quite a coup for our college. We are on a big change agenda on many fronts, and we need a strategy for implementing that change. I have seen great success with the adoption of an organization-wide approach to project management. Sinead brings all of the skills and experience to accomplish this work, a deep knowledge of the heath education and healthcare systems of Saskatchewan, and a great network throughout the province.

I’ve asked her to outline how a Project Management approach will benefit the work of the college.  Here’s what she has to tell us:

Have you ever worked on a project and you had no idea why you were doing it; you weren’t sure how your piece fit into the bigger picture; there were last minute changes or surprises?  Maybe you had to just get something done, but new tasks kept getting added, and your project seemed to never end.   Frustrating!

Using an active project management approach takes away the frustration.  It means we take the time to design and plan a project so we can properly execute and achieve the desired results.  Following the methodology helps us know in advance: what we want to achieve (the desired outcome); who needs to be involved; how to manage the schedule, budget, communications, risk and quality metrics; success measures; evaluation and learning.

For the College of Medicine, Distributed Medical Education (DME) is a prime example of an unplanned project.  This is not a criticism, and in fact, the college has seen many DME successes – despite not having an overall planned design.  To meet the needs of our increasing undergraduate and postgraduate student body, the college dove right into distributing programming across the province.

We are now taking a step back in order to develop a truly strategic plan for DME, including the design of a DME structure required to move the college forward.  As a result of this approach, the College of Medicine will:

1. Learn from the experts:

  • Establish a Task Group to recommend a governance model that identifies who has the authority, what the DME models and growth plan will be, and the operational business plan.  This Task Group  will have representatives from the college, the current DME sites, the Ministries of Health and Advanced Education, and Regional Health Authorities
  • Research what other Canadian medical schools have done with DME

2. Learn from reality:

  • Complete focus groups with the existing DME sites to learn what is going well, what needs more support/ improvement

3. Understand the provincial implications:

  • Host a provincial forum on June 22 and 23 to work with provincial partners to understand the implications of the DME governance plan, and to work through the components that need to be included in the business plan

4. Articulate the College of Medicine approach to DME:

  • Produce a document that articulates the college’s vision and plan for DME
  • Identify the operational considerations and activities needed to mobilize and implement the DME plan

Distributed Medical Education for Saskatchewan is a provincial plan.  Engagement, participation, commitment, and action are the mantra to move us forward.  I am excited to work with college members and partners across the Saskatchewan as we build on the foundation you’ve created.

For the College of Medicine, implementing a project management methodology will allow our approach to be consistent – regardless of the type and scope of project.  My long term goal is to see all college projects have a charter, a stakeholder management plan, and a lead who is the ‘motor’ to keep the project on task and on target.  Project leads will also complete the project evaluation and report on the outcomes, ensuring both transparency and accountability.

I am always interested in hearing the perspectives of the College partners to understand how any of the projects that we proceed with impact and affect them.  Please contact me for more information on the projects that I am supporting.  I am very pleased to have joined the college and look forward to the opportunity to meet and work with you.

One thought on “Using a Project Management Approach to further DME in SK

  1. I had the pleasure of providing input on one of Sinead’s process mapping sessions having to do with one of our administrative processes. I found her approach so inclusive and so detailed, yet her visual aids and guidance always brought us back to the ‘big picture’ and focused on where we were in relation to where we had to go. I was happy to be able to provide input from my ground-level point of view on this particular project but I did not anticipate learning so much from the session to relate to my day-to-day job! I still refer to her Waste Audit handout and I still think of those wonderful starburst visual reminders she used. Thank you, Sinead!

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