Reflecting on accomplishments

I sit on the deck of a cottage at White Point Beach Resort in Nova Scotia, enjoying the cool North Atlantic fog rolling in, the sound of the waves, the smell of the salt air and a fine NS sparkling wine (Nova 7 by Benjamin Bridge – highly recommended). We are back in the Maritimes to vacation, see family and old friends, and see our youngest daughter get married. I hope all of you take the time to get the rest and relaxation you deserve. I don’t plan for my second year to be any less busy as together, we move the CoM forward.

In that regard, I would like to highlight the activities that occurred as our school year came to a close.

Following the UGME accreditation visit last May, we have already begun preparations for our next full visit that is scheduled for 2017.  A number of working groups have been struck, and you will be hearing more from Athena McConnell and Kevin Siebert as this work amps up over the coming weeks.  We will hear back from the accreditors this fall on the outcome of last May’s visit, but let’s remember the real target is 2017.

In the meantime, I have diverted my attention to the PGME visit in December and am meeting regularly with Anurag Saxena to review preparations. I would like to thank the Program Directors and Administrators for the hard work already done preparing the PSQs that are due to the Royal College in early September. As always, I am interested in feedback as we prepare for this important event in the late fall.

As you saw earlier, we announced a new Vice Dean of Education, Dr. Kent Stobart, who I believe will bring great strength and leadership to our education team when he joins us on September 1. I would like again to commend and thank Gill White for the tremendous work he has done, and I am thankful he is willing to stay on as our Associate Dean in Regina. Gill is truly the face of the CoM in Regina and has done an outstanding job building our presence there.

In that regard, Gill has led the way in establishing important initiatives in Simulation and Faculty Development. Moving our simulation plan forward is essential as we have a way to go to catch the national leaders. Gill has recruited Dr. Neil Cowie to lead simulation and Dr. Mendez has recruited Dr. Cole Beavis to lead on a Surgical Skills lab and program. Many thanks to these people for stepping up to the plate.

As we engage more faculty in our academic mission and expand our efforts in Faculty Development, I am pleased Dr. Kalyani Premkumar has taken on this role. As I’ve said before, a one faculty model is essential for the CoM’s success, and a comprehensive faculty development strategy helps to support all faculty across the province.

In the last two weeks, we had interviews with two final candidates for the Vice Dean of Research, inviting a broad group of researchers and stakeholders. I hope to have an announcement when I return in August and someone in place by January 1, 2016.

Dr. Gordon McKay has done a tremendous job as our research lead, so I am sorry that he has decided to step down from this role. I am extremely grateful for his hard work, pleasant and professional collaboration and his unwavering support to me, but I certainly do understand his desire to spend more time with his family. I will shortly announce an Acting VDR to support our researchers in the interim.

Searches for Unified Heads in Pathology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Medicine all are nearing closure with ongoing interviews of a strong slate of candidates in each. I hope again to have announcements upon my return or early in the fall. As Dr Alanna Danilkewich will finish in June of 2016, we will be starting a search for the Head of Family Medicine in September.

Faculty are also busy on the committee for internal searches for assistant deans of curriculum, student affairs, and PGME. These should conclude in September.

We are launching an internal search for a Vice Dean of Faculty Relations. As you will recall I took on this role and was richly rewarded by coming to know well many faculty members. As we move forward on the vision of a one faculty model, there is lots of work with faculty to be done. All faculty engaged in our academic mission at the CoM deserve a senior leader fully devoted to their interests. I hope all may give some thought to this role or encourage a colleague who may be well-suited.

Our project on restructuring our basic science programs and governance is well underway and ably supported by Jim Thornhill and Sinead McGartland. I thank those faculty members and department heads who are taking up this work.

Finally, our joint submission with Health Quality Council to CIHR for the Saskatchewan Center for Patient Oriented Research went in the first week of July. This took tremendous work by many people but could see as much as 34 million dollars from the federal government to support Patient Oriented Research coming to Saskatchewan. Thanks to all, but I need to single out the hard work of Beth Horsburgh.

So as you can see the school year ended with what I feel is a growing sense of progress and momentum.

My old boss always said enjoy your summer because we will do even more next year. I sure hope so!!! 🙂

Enjoy your summer!


June wrap-up

June seems like a blur to me, as there have been an enormous number of activities, projects and events all squeezed in before the summer break. I will endeavor to cover for you a brief summary of what I and your hard-working colleagues have been up to.

I would again like to congratulate the Class of 2015 as we started the month with graduation activities. I complement again the remarkable accomplishments made by this class. It was very interesting to compare their pride in the CoM to that of the many alumni I met this last weekend at Highlights.

Earlier in June Dr. Tom Smith-Windsor organized a retreat on planning for Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships.  This was an excellent day with participation from faculty from across the province as well as government representation. You may have heard me describe this model of clerkship where students spend most or all of third year in groups of 2-4 in a small community covering the curriculum in an integrated and longitudinal format. These are spreading rapidly around the world because the results are quite remarkable. Students do as well or better on standardized testing, have better clinical skills, are more likely to choose generalist and rural careers and retain more of the compassion with which they entered medical school than rotation-based peers. We heard from well-known expert medical educators including Dr. Robert Boulay from Dalhousie, Dr. Jill Konkin from Alberta and Dr. David Hirsch from Harvard.

This week sees the submission of an application to CIHR for a Saskatchewan Support Unit under the SPOR (Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research). To achieve this goal the CoM has partnered with the Health Quality Council to co-host the unit. This is an incredibly important step in the process of growing the research here that impacts our healthcare system and our communities and the CoM has invested considerably to make this project a reality. Many people have worked hard on this project but particular thanks go to Dr. Beth Horsburgh and Dr. Gary Teare of HQC.

I was told when I got here that the dean’s office was like Hollywood because so many people were “acting”. Well I, and a large number of people, have been very busy over the last year to correct that. Thank you to the staff, especially Leslie Bousquet, and the entire faculty volunteers on those committees. I have been or continue to be chair for 13 searches. We have invested in expert help for some of the bigger searches, which has really paid off in the number and quality of our applications. We will shortly announce a Vice-Dean of Education and are, this summer, interviewing stellar short lists for Vice-Dean Research and Unified Heads in Medicine, Obstetrics-Gynecology and Pathology. The external interest in our College is remarkable and the internal interest is very encouraging.

On June 21-22 we hosted a Distributed Medical Education Retreat in Regina. This is part of our ongoing process of strategic planning for DME, which will result in a comprehensive plan this fall. We had approximately 60 participants from across the province and the opportunity to hear about the DME models in Alberta (Dr. Jill Konkin – U of A and Dr. Doug Myhre – U of C). Participants were from across the province including our two academic health science centers in Saskatoon and Regina, many of our regional partners, government leaders from both MoH and MAE, and residents and students. Much was accomplished as we continue on our journey to paint the province of Saskatchewan with learners in all areas and produce graduates that are keen to serve all of our communities.

Highlights 2015 was a great success with a great turnout and some fabulous speakers including Drs. Gill White, Dee Dee Maltman and Mike Kelly to name a few. The conference afforded me many opportunities to engage with alumni and hear their great stories and fond memories of the CoM. I must admit I will be glad when University Bridge is back as I made about 12 trips to and from the Sheraton in three days. One feature of Highlights was the debut of a short video about the CoM that we will use over the next year or so at alumni and donor events as well as any opportunity to promote our college. The following link leads to the video:

Another important piece of work accomplished this year was done with my colleagues around the Council of Health Science Deans. We will restructure to a Health Sciences Council and the university has invested in new leadership positions to advance our twin goals of interdisciplinary health research and inter-professional education. In that regard the Provost has asked me to take on the role as Vice-Provost Health while continuing on as Dean of the CoM. My role is to chair the Health Sciences Council and facilitate the kind of collaboration that will achieve these two goals. The 360 million dollar provincial investment in the Health Sciences Building and the ongoing substantial investment in our colleges have been based on the promise we will succeed in these goals of IDHR and IPE.  Success in these areas is also success for the CoM as it is for all of our peer health colleges and schools. I see this role as complementary to my role as your dean and rest assured you will continue to have my full-time efforts and commitment.

A bittersweet moment for me was an afternoon tea we had on Monday to honor Dr. Sheila Harding. Dr. Harding seems to me synonymous with medical education and UGME here at the CoM and I knew her reputation long before arriving in Saskatchewan. Sheila is stepping down in her role as Associate Dean for UGME after over 11 years. Now, in typical Sheila fashion, she will not be done until August 31 as she agreed to extend again for two more months until her replacement can start. Besides her boat will not be delivered until late summer!! Sheila has been an incredibly committed medical education leader who is passionate about medical education, students and serving well the people of Saskatchewan. She truly excels at her model of “servant leadership” and her national reputation in medical education is, I am sure, the strongest at our university. We have been very lucky to have her in these roles and my only hope is that after a well-deserved year of administrative leave and sailing we will find a way for Sheila to continue to make big contributions to our medical education mission.