A busy and exciting year ahead

In my recent welcome back blog, I alluded to a busy fall coming up at the CoM. This blog outlines some of the big things going on and what I will be up to in the coming months.

First, I had the great opportunity on Thursday to attend the grand opening of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, an incredibly exciting day for our province’s children and their loved ones, as well as our health system and college. Later this month, the first patients will be able to enter this wonderful new facility. We have a great team in the Department of Pediatrics and amazing and dedicated volunteers and organizers to support the hospital as it opens its doors. For our college, it will provide tremendous opportunities for enhanced teaching and research in pediatric health supported by both the new infrastructure and expansion in pediatric specialties.

Also highly significant for the College of Medicine and our faculty is today’s announcement that Dr. Marilyn Baetz will start as our vice-dean faculty engagement on November 1, 2019. Marilyn has done a wonderful job leading the Department of Psychiatry and I am sure will be sorely missed in that role and by the Saskatchewan Health Authority. I am very pleased to announce Marilyn’s appointment and look forward to the work she will do in enhancing faculty engagement (which you likely know by now is one of our top strategic priorities I always include in my elevator speech about our strategic plan).

Fall is now also a busy season for work on budgets, with our fiscal planning at all levels taking place earlier to ensure an approved budget is in place when we start the new fiscal year in April. This timeline also coincides with government budget timelines, and we have already been working with our colleagues at the university and in government on our 2020-2021 budget request.

The CoM’s education portfolio is very active. We have just completed an external review of Student Affairs and Dr.  Kent Stobart and his team are working to continue to enhance student services. Dr. Trustin Domes has taken on the role of Director of Admissions and we will soon initiate a major review of our admissions policies. Some may have noticed Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry making national news for their innovations in admissions—a reminder of the challenge in medical education I keep telling our funders about: the bar is always moving! In PGME, Competence by Design continues to roll out across more programs, with 10 so far that have launched CBD. And in December, we provide the Committee on Accreditation of Medical Schools with the follow-up data they had requested after our successful accreditation visit in 2017. All of these activities align with our strategic priority of quality education.

Work in the biomedical sciences (BMSC) to develop a new undergraduate degree program continues on schedule. Our departments of Anatomy, Physiology & Pharmacology and Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology are hard at work recruiting new faculty to replace some of our retirees. And in Community Health and Epidemiology, plans are well underway for 60th anniversary celebrations this fall.

The above provides a few highlights of all that is upcoming—our departments and units across the CoM are doing a great deal more that I will not be able to capture here. We are a big and busy college, there is no question!

I have taken on some additional national roles. I continue to Chair the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) Standing Committee on Education and sit on the AFMC Executive. I represent deans on the PGME Governing Council, the Distributed Medical Education group of the AFMC and the Rural Road Map Implementation Committee led by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) and the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada. I am also the CFPC nominee to the board of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

Fall is always a busy time for national meetings and I will be away for a few, including the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) meeting, Learn Serve Lead in Phoenix, and the International Conference on Residency Education (ICRE), run by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The AAMC meeting is always a great way to learn about innovations in medical education and ICRE is becoming a huge meeting for PGME that I will be attending for the first time. Finally, as I sit on the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s Quality, Safety & Strategy committee, I hope to attend the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) National Forum on Quality Improvement in Healthcare in December. IHI calls the attendees, “passionate professionals unsatisfied with the current state of health care, and unwilling to stand still,” and I am told it is partly professional development and partly a “revival meeting.” I look forward to the experience!

So as always there is lots on the go at the CoM. But I am not ready to let go of summer yet so I thought I might let you know what I was reading this year. I had done so in a previous blog and a number of people asked to hear more. So my summer relaxation was a few of my old, low cognitive load standbys of historical fiction and mystery. I finished Ken Follet’s Edge of Eternity and David Baldacci’s The Fallen and Long Road to Mercy. (This is of course to prove I am not totally a nerd!)

But my real discovery this summer was Louise Penney, a Canadian author from rural Quebec who sets her mystery novels there. It is a series, and this year I accidently discovered her by desperately searching a grocery store in rural New Brunswick for something to read! I read her Kingdom of the Blind and immediately thought, “Where have you been all this time!” So now I have started the first book in the 15-book series, Still Life. They are great mysteries and a charming slice of Canadiana, complemented by a wicked but subtle sense of humor!

To reinforce that I am still part nerd, on September 1 I started Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein. It is written in that modern style of “science writer for the general public,” so there are some great anecdotes, some fascinating research and the odd leap of logic. However, he does quite a job of debunking the universal applicability of Gladwell’s 10,000 hours and other current concepts like deliberate practice, early starts and grit. What I found fascinating was how some of the education research he describes supports what we are doing in our new BMSC undergraduate degree and the Saskatchewan Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship in our UGME program. It also supports some of the themes in the U of S Strategic Plan “The Weave” – especially the themes of Connectivity and Creativity. It is always interesting to see confirming ideas coming from different directions (or is this just another bubble?). I digress; however, I do recommend the book as a thought-provoking read.

This will be a busy fall for everyone as we continue to move the CoM forward. I hope that for some who share my taste in books, these are potential distractions! I hope others will share their favorite books.

And as I always say, my door is open and I welcome feedback. As well, with our new vice-dean faculty engagement joining the team in November, we will have even more opportunities to hear from our faculty. Furthermore, we have a vice-dean education, vice-dean research and a chief operating officer who are all willing to hear from learners, teachers, researchers and staff.


3 thoughts on “A busy and exciting year ahead

  1. All aspects of Maternal Care will also be provided at JPCH and will be the foundation of all undergraduate and postgraduate Obstetric teaching.

  2. Hi Dr.Smith,
    When will the results from the new admissions review be implemented? Will it be for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle? Are you envisioning a wholesale change of the procedure or minor tweaks to the DSAP and the IAP programs with the gist of the admissions program remaining the same?

    • Thank you for your interest in the recent Admissions external review and inquiring about changes to College of Medicine Admissions policies in the future.

      Currently, as a college we are communicating the key results of the external review to our stakeholders and we are looking to move forward on the key priority items that were highlighted by our external reviewers. We are planning to have an Admissions retreat in February 2020 where further stakeholder feedback will be incorporated into our future direction. It is premature at this stage to predict what changes will be incorporated into future policies or what the timeline for those changes will be.

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