The CaRMS journey has begun for 2019

It is that time of year again: our fourth-year medical students have embarked on their Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) interview journey. For many, it literally is a journey. Some students started last Monday at Memorial University in Newfoundland and are working their way west, interviewing as they go. Many students have scheduled in excess of 10 interviews!

Last week and this week are designated for interviews across Canada. I think deans, UGME leaders, parents and partners of these students from programs across the country are collectively holding our breath, hoping travels will be safe and interviews successful. It is an arduous process and for our students a source of great personal stress.

Recently, Dr. Kent Stobart (Vice-Dean Education) and I had our regular meeting with the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan. What a great group of student leaders we have here at the CoM! Thank you for the great work you do on behalf of your peers and our college.

Early in 2019, Dr. Stobart and I also hosted breakfasts with our medical students in both Saskatoon and Regina; I asked each fourth-year student about his or her plans for residency education and if each felt well prepared for career selection and the CaRMS process. I must say I was gratified to hear they all felt well prepared by our Career Advising program. This is a multi-faceted program focused on preparing students to pick the best specialty for themselves. It starts at the beginning of first-year medical education and extends right through to mock interviews (these were going on until the weekend before last, here!) for students finishing the MD program who are heading into their CaRMS interviews. Another interesting observation from these breakfast conversations came from some students who commented that while doing electives away, they felt their medical education compared well to that at other schools. While subjective self-comparison and small numbers may not be good science on its own, hearing this felt good anyway!

Our Career Advising program offers great resources through our Career Advising Guide and website.  I would like to acknowledge the great work done by UGME leadership and staff, and the many on our faculty who advise, mentor, provide feedback and do mock interviews for our students, as they prepare for CaRMS. In particular, I thank Stephanie Marshall, our Career Advising & Mentoring coordinator, for her great work in providing this important program to our students.

Of course, this is also a really busy time for our PGME office, especially our residency programs, as they do the interviews and embark on file review and selection of new first-year residents for their programs. I chaired the resident selection committee at Dalhousie family medicine for several years, so I know all too well how much is involved. Thanks and kudos to all the staff and faculty who do this essential work.

Career advising and resident selection are among the really important things we do for our students, our residency programs and our province. It is essential for the public we serve that our healthcare system has the right mix of family doctors, specialists and sub-specialists. I know I am joined by many in extending good wishes that our students pursuing residency positions find themselves in a field of medicine that gives them great career satisfaction. Ultimately, the people of Saskatchewan are the beneficiaries of this important work.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Happy 2019: books and other things

I would like to welcome all our learners, staff and faculty back after what I hope for everyone was a rejuvenating break. I wish all a very happy New Year.

For myself, it was a wonderful break with lots of time with family and friends—with special emphasis on my three-year-old grandson! It was all great fun but I particularly enjoyed the moment on Boxing Day when he took a stocking-shaped ornament off the tree and asked his mother to hang it up on the mantle in hopes of a repeat. Smart guy!

2018 was a good year for the CoM and you have heard me repeatedly highlight our accreditation success, student success on the MCC exams with our new curriculum, and our ASPIRE Award for Social Accountability. A particular highlight coming this spring will be a trip to Montreal for the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame dinner, where Dr. Jim Dosman, founder of the Canadian Center for Health and Safety in Agriculture, will be one of six inductees! This is a huge honour for Jim and testimony to the history of excellence at the CoM. I have been at several of these dinners and Jim is both highly deserving as an inductee and remarkable in how active he continues to be in his scholarly work. Congratulations, Jim!

One of my favorite parts of this past season is (through suggestion or downright begging) that I see a substantial addition to my pile of books. So at the risk of appearing “Obama-esque,” I will share some of the highlights. My haul included Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey (a cookbook and travelogue from National Geographic), Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (American presidential scholar; it seemed apropos for both the times and this job), Dam Busters: Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid Against Nazi Germany by Ted Barris (I like WW2 history) and two books by Tanya Talaga, a prize-winning Canadian Indigenous author and longtime journalist with the Toronto Star. Her second book is All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward, which is from her CBC Massey Lectures. Over the holidays I read her first book, Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City and found it heart-breaking and infuriating, yet I saw it pointing to the title of the second book which I will start this weekend! As one critic said, “She offers painful lessons while courting hope.”

I absolutely can recommend Leadership in Turbulent Times because Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of my favorite biographers (she also wrote Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln). More importantly, I highly recommend Seven Fallen Feathers. Another critic (Ottawa Review of Books) said, “Once started, this book is difficult to put down. At just over 300 pages, Seven Fallen Feathers moves from one compelling story to the next, and seamlessly weaves in facts and history. The writing is crisp and thoughtful. Seven Fallen Feathers… fosters understanding, and is a book that can benefit everyone.”

So, the first goal of this blog is to welcome everyone back and wish you a great 2019. A secondary goal of sharing my reading list is that you may pass on your reviews of recent great reads. (That pile of books of mine always also includes some historical fiction and a Swedish crime novel or two!) Sometimes a book is just permission to check out, which we all need from time to time.

As always, I look forward to your feedback (or book suggestions!).