Summer Blog

Despite two days of rain it is quite clear at the College of Medicine that summer is here as the halls are decidedly quiet.  As I eagerly anticipate vacation starting on Saturday, I wanted to take an opportunity to let you know about the CoM activities.

We have had an incredibly busy year – a fact I realized while putting together the report for my annual review with the Provost and Vice-President Academic. I won’t go through all the details but I would like to highlight three major accomplishments.

First our team is in place. We now have recruited three vice deans, a chief operating officer, four new department heads, two associate deans, two assistant deans, and an almost entirely new management team in the Dean’s Office.  I am really excited about the team we have in place. I believe our leadership bodes well for the future.

We have come through the faculty transition with 100 of our 130 USFA MD faculty making the transition to ACFP’s or alternate engagements with the CoM. Congratulations and thanks to the team of people from the college, the Saskatoon Health Region, the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region and the Ministry of Health who led this work. It was an Herculean and incredibly complex task and, while difficult at times, I believe was done in a very respectful manner. Many things are good about the ACFP from a CoM perspective, especially the clear definition of academic deliverables. Having said that, much work still needs to be done to clarify deliverables, processes, governance, etc. The CoM is committed to working collaboratively with our partners, the unified department heads, departmental mangers (who have a crucial role in administering the ACFP) and the faculty participating with the CoM under the ACFP to ensure we maximize the service to our learners, our research programs and the academic careers of those MD faculty.

Late in June, Dr. Anurag Saxena, Associate Dean PGME, Dr. Kent Stobart, Vice Dean Medical Education and I attended meetings in Toronto with the accreditation committees of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Overall our PGME accreditation was successful. Some programs have some work to do but there is already a plan in place to resolve any deficiencies and all of our programs are accredited.  Congratulations and thanks to all faculty, program directors, staff and residents who supported this effort. In particular, our PGME office staff received high praise from the accreditation team that visited. Kudos to Dr. Saxena and the PGME staff.

Much other work is underway as we continue to work on restructuring the Biomedical Science Division, which voted for a two departmental model, as we launch the Saskatchewan Center for Patient Oriented Research, as we develop our One Faculty model and, of course, as we continue the ongoing roll out of our new curriculum. The agenda we are on is truly ambitious but with the dedicated team of learners, faculty and staff at the CoM that I have the privilege of working with, it is an agenda I am confident that we will complete.

In late June, I had the unique opportunity to join a U of S delegation to northern Norway. The delegation included several USask leaders, Chancellor, Blaine Favel, Board of Governors Chair, Lee Ahenikew being among them. We visited Sápmi, the homeland of the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia and eastern Russia, who are known as the Sámi. We visited the University of Tromso, which has a medical school similar in size to the CoM and face similar challenges such as distributed medical education, clinical care in northern and sparsely populated regions and service to their indigenous population.

We visited the Sámi University College, the Sámi Parliament, and the northernmost community in the world with streets and a permanent population, Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen Island in the Svalbard archipelago, which also has a university center. The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) is the world’s northernmost higher education institution, located at 78º N. It is unique in that all students are required to do fieldwork in all of their courses and, to do so, must take a safety course and learn to use a rifle–that last is due to the polar bears!

Norway is indeed a beautiful country but the real purpose of the visit was to explore their service to the Sámi people. We learned a lot and found a real inspiration to continue on the mission of “indigenizing the university” as advocated by President Peter Stoicheff.

Well, as I said, I am looking forward to my vacation which starts Saturday as I go fishing up North for four days and then head to the Maritimes. I look forward to attending my 35th medical school reunion (how time flies!) in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, salmon fishing on the Miramichi River and relaxing ocean side in Nova Scotia and PEI.

I hope you all enjoy your summer and have an opportunity to get some rest and relaxation. As always my door is open and I welcome your feedback.