Checking in on our continuous improvement efforts

Next week, from October 4-5, our medical school marks a significant milestone—the interim accreditation review of our Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) program.

Reminders and deadlines are important in moving anything forward. So it is with accreditation—it provides those critical reminders and deadlines for work that makes us a better medical school. We’ve had such great success not only in our last full UGME accreditation review, but in our recent reviews for both Continuing Medical Education and the School of Rehabilitation Science. Postgraduate Medical Education has been doing great work in preparation of its upcoming review, as well.

Of course, the twenty-first century for our college has been a lot about overcoming challenges and making the needed improvements in our UGME program. That work did not end with the successful outcome of our 2017 full-site accreditation visit. In fact, it is every bit as critical as ever, with the wonderful difference that now we are positioned to a much greater degree to improve and respond proactively rather than reactively. And that’s a lot more fun than the alternative!

When we achieved an eight-year accreditation result, we marked a major turning point. But as accreditation goes, we really are just around the bend from those difficult days and must continue to reinforce our improvements and new ways of doing things to ensure we continue on the right track.

Some context: this review is required by the Committee on Accreditation of Medical Schools (CACMS), but CACMS does not participate in it or review outcomes at this point. More importantly, and as medical schools across the country can attest, this interim review is a very important checkpoint on our way to our next successful full accreditation review. It enables us to identify areas for growth with enough time to make needed changes.

In the past decade, our college (and medical schools across the country) have improved our approach to accreditation, adding structure and devoted resources to support this important work. We created the role of Director of Quality to lead undergraduate accreditation about seven years ago, and that position has been capably filled by Athena McConnell ever since. We have an accreditation specialist supporting the quality lead, and both, as you can imagine, have been working diligently behind the scenes in preparation for this interim review, as have so many others on our team both within and beyond our undergraduate program.

So this interim review, while mandatory, is truly proactive in nature. It will involve two days of meetings—similar though not as extensive as those conducted at our 2017 accreditation visit, and of course virtual rather than face-to-face—with an external reviewer who is here to help us objectively assess our program.

Of course, medical schools are complex organizations, and that means we always have areas that need extra attention. One of the most important aspects of this review will be gaining perspective on how the UGME program can demonstrate collaboration across campuses and sites in order to duplicate each other’s successes and ensure learners in the medical doctor program have a comparable education and experience no matter where they learn.

We are one CoM, and we have great opportunities to improve how we work together as a unified team for Saskatchewan. This is more important than ever as we prepare for all years of the MD program being based from both Saskatoon and Regina starting in August 2022.