Busy Days

Today’s blog provides an update on the many things going on at the College of Medicine. An upcoming blog will provide a “report card” on how far we have come in implementing The Way Forward.

In the past month, we have welcomed three great leaders to the CoM. Dr. Marek Radomski has joined us from Trinity College Dublin as our Vice-Dean, Research. In addition to his incredible energy and enthusiasm, he brings a wealth of experience, having set up research programs all over the world, with more than 250 publications in pharmacology to his name, an h-index of 61, and as a mentor to numerous students. Dr. Sam Haddad has started as the Unified Department Head of Medicine for the college and Saskatoon Health Region. He is an accomplished leader, cardiologist, researcher and scholar who joins us from the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Heart Institute. Greg Power has started as our Chief Operating Officer and brings extensive experience as a leader in business, public and university sectors, with credentials in information technology and accounting. He was most recently Director of MedIT at Dalhousie University and has extensive experience with distributed medical education. At the recent Canadian Conference on Medical Education in Montreal my old friends from Dalhousie greeted me with the usual warmth, but a definitive “damn you!” I am thrilled to attract all of this great talent to the CoM.

Just this week I was pleased to announce Dr. Keith Ogle as our Vice-Dean, Faculty Engagement. Keith is well known to many as an experienced and talented family doctor, ethicist and former Department Head of Academic Family Medicine. Keith has worked as a hospitalist in recent years at St. Paul’s Hospital, has many connections in the physician community throughout the province, and considerable experience as a university leader. Keith is enthused to take on this role and lead us as we build our One Faculty model, which includes all faculty who contribute to our teaching and research mandates. We had a number of strong candidates come forward during the search process and their participation and interest is testimony to the commitment that exists to our college.

Another round of CaRMS has been completed. Our students have done well in competing for medical residency positions across the country. Sixty per cent of our students have chosen to complete their residency program here in the province, which bodes well for our efforts to train the right doctors for the right communities in Saskatchewan. Nationally, concerns continue about the number of residency positions, with about two per cent of Canadian graduates unmatched after the second round. Here, two of our students were not matched after the second round. Our education team has created a formal program for these students to complete in the upcoming year to prepare them for success in next year’s match. This has also motivated us to respond to our students request for enhanced career counselling. Congratulations to our PGME team, who filled all of our residency positions, and in particular the Family Medicine program, one of the few programs in the country that filled completely after the first round.

We expect our next accreditation visit will take place in the fall of 2017. Preparation is underway and a steering group is hard at work under the leadership of Vice-Dean, Education, Dr. Kent Stobbart and our Assistant Dean, Quality, Dr. Athena McConnell. One key component is the Independent Student Assessment (ISA) and our students, led by ISA co-chairs Nolan Rau and John Dickinson and the SMSS, are hard at work, currently completing their own 166-question survey to inform the ISA. Two experienced accreditors, Dr. Tom Marrie, former dean of medicine at Dalhousie and Dr. Cam Enarson from the University of North Carolina have agreed to come and do a mock accreditation survey in February 2017. A communications strategy for accreditation is being prepared and over the next two years there will be a steadily increasing stream of information about accreditation coming to you. We all must be deeply knowledgeable about our MD program, as the accreditation team can ask anyone in the formal meetings or even in the hallway, “What should a student do if they get a needle stick?” or “What are the objectives for your rotation?” or ……!!  As I have said before, accreditation is a team sport and we need everyone at the CoM engaged. As we reach out to faculty, staff and students in our preparation I must emphasize the importance of that work and thank you for your participation.

Senior leaders and some faculty members of our college gathered last week for a full day that included an excellent presentation by Dr. Jack Kitts from the Ottawa Hospital on developing an organization that supports faculty engagement. This was followed by some excellent group work and discussion around faculty engagement and how we move forward in this critical area.

I am excited to have Dr. Carol Suddards visiting our three campuses in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert. She has published and presented on the importance of the learning environment and students’ education. Carol is meeting with some of our medical students who volunteered to share their experience at each of our campuses, including student classrooms and, more importantly, clinical services. Her work will help us prepare for the upcoming full medical school accreditation in late 2017. Questions will be about interactions with patients, working inter-professionally and opportunities for medical research. We are also looking at the learning environment by reviewing students’ experience with student support and wellness.

An important town hall meeting takes place this week with our biomedical sciences faculty members, myself and Provost Ernie Barber. Dr. Jim Thornhill has been working steadily with our faculty members and department heads on developing a new undergraduate biomedical degree program based in the CoM, as well as looking at various governance options. I have gone to meet with all five biomedical sciences departments and have listened carefully to their feedback. The town hall will give the entire group the opportunity to discuss the model that will best serve the biomedical scientists in a “new world” of our own degree program and team science.

This is but a sampling of the great work being done by the dedicated faculty, staff and students at the CoM. As always, I welcome your feedback.