Biomedical Sciences Chooses Two-Department Model

As I mentioned in my October 2015 blog, Shaping Biomedical Sciences, when we started this project, a biomedical sciences program managed by the College of Medicine (with options/streams to ensure students, upon graduation, are well prepared to enter health professional programs, pursue research endeavours, or enter the work force in their area of specialized training) is critical for our college. There are so many avenues for Saskatchewan to be a leader in the biomedical sciences, and this is our opportunity to be creative and stretch ourselves.

Nearly a year of hard work, meetings and much discussion culminated recently with a vote by the faculty of the Division of Biomedical Sciences on their governance model going forward. As many of you know, the biomedical faculty voted on whether it would move toward a two-department or school governance structure for the future. The vote was in favour of the two-department model, with nearly 70 per cent making that choice. This provides a clear decision by the faculty for a two-department model, and we now begin the work to make this happen.

Conceptual departments, under working only titles of Department of Cellular and Integrative Biomedical Sciences and Department of Microbial and Molecular Biomedical Sciences to enable discussion and understanding, will enable faculty members an opportunity to self-identify which of the two proposed departments they would be likely to join.

In terms of next steps, the Biomedical Governance and Programs committees will begin to flesh out details of the restructuring and the undergraduate program streams. It goes without saying that we need the continued commitment and involvement of our faculty in this work. A Notice of Motion is expected to go forward to the College of Medicine Faculty Council and when that motion has been debated and approved, the next step would be for it to go forward to University Council for approval.

As we move forward with developing the structure to more effectively support these goals, it’s important to note that our current undergraduate and graduate students will be able to complete their programs, which will continue to be honoured and valid, and we certainly need our faculty and staff to reassure all current students of the value of their existing programs.

I want to extend my appreciation to everyone in the basic science departments for your work and commitment to this process over the past nine months, as you’ve organized and participated in many consultations, discussions and town halls. I look forward to continuing to work with you as we take our Biomedical Sciences program to a new level.

CoM reaches physician engagement milestone

We have reached a significant point in our journey toward a new conceptual model of physician engagement in the CoM’s academic mission. May 31 marked the deadline for those approximately 130 faculty members involved in the transition that we began last August. This transition, as you know, involved a voluntary severance package for eligible CoM faculty members in-scope of USFA, with the option to move to new forms of engagement through an Academic Clinical Funding Plan (ACFP) or contract.

I am aware of how varied in nature this process has been for those faculty members involved; that it has been relatively straightforward for some, and has been very difficult for others. People are at different stages of their career and have their own unique set of goals and preferences. We are one team, but within that we are individuals whose situations and choices are unique.

The nature of an ACFP (or contract) is such that the work since last August needed to be carried out on an individual-by-individual basis. This created challenges, as many know. It meant handling communication with care and consideration to ensure appropriate privacy of those directly involved.

Nonetheless, I continue to firmly believe that what we are moving toward is both better and necessary. We must have physicians across the province engaged with the college and involved in our academic mission. We must get to a place where academic time is safeguarded and appropriately valued, if our college is to survive and thrive. We have made an important step in that direction now.

Our transition team has been working very hard to support and inform our faculty members throughout this process, and those efforts were especially elevated in the days leading up to and after May 31. I have great confidence in this team and have seen firsthand their commitment and the lengths they have gone to in supporting and assisting our faculty through the transition. I extend a heartfelt thank you to our transition team members for your diligence and perseverance in this incredibly important work for the College of Medicine.

I also thank our faculty members for their perseverance through this process. Information wasn’t always available immediately for you, and in some cases, details are still being worked out. Your patience and faith in light of this is certainly appreciated.

Our work is of course not finished with May 31. We will continue to strive to engage physicians in Saskatchewan in the work of our college. Note that our transition team needs the month of June to ensure that the work associated with the May 31 deadline is completed and therefore won’t begin additional ACFPs until July. This team will remain in place as we move into the next stage of adding more and more detail to the new model. In addition to the transition team, don’t hesitate to take your feedback and questions to your UDH, and of course Keith Ogle, vice-dean faculty engagement, is also available.

I have heard from our UDHs and many of you that you want unification, you want to be included and you want to focus on our future. I couldn’t be more pleased to hear this, as I want—and our College of Medicine needs—those same things.

As always, I welcome your feedback.