CoM Faculty Council approves new Department of Indigenous Health and Wellness

Guest blog by Dr. Janet Tootoosis, interim vice-dean Indigenous health

On January 25, CoM Faculty Council approved the proposal to establish a new Department of Indigenous Health and Wellness (DIHW). The proposal received strong support, endorsing the direction proposed to best support Indigenous health and wellness and validating the efforts of so many people involved in the consultation for and development of the proposal. Most importantly, it demonstrates a high level of support for improving Indigenous health and wellness with increased structures and resources in our college.

Our faculty have said they agree that we need to be a bigger, more effective part of real change for Indigenous people.

As noted in the Faculty Council decision request, “The creation of the Department of Indigenous Health and Wellness directly supports the vision and mission articulated in the College of Medicine’s Strategic Plan 2017-2022 and Renewal 2025. The proposed Indigenous-led department has an exceptionally high degree of linkages to institutional plans and strategies including: the University Plan 2025; ohpahotân I oohpaahotaan – The Indigenous Strategy; the USask Strategic Research Plan and the USask Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Plan.”

With this strongly supported mandate from our college to move forward with the proposal, our planned next steps and timeline for full approval of the proposal are for it to go to the Academic Priorities Committee in February, the Planning and Priorities Committee at the start of March, then to University Council as a notice of motion in March. We hope to have it before the Board of Governors followed by requests for decision at each of University Council and University Senate in April. As these approval stages progress, we will provide updates to the college through the weekly CoM E-News, this blog, and other channels.

I am grateful for the many messages of support during this process and since I started in the vice-dean role last June, and the congratulations and expressions of happiness received following the CoM Faculty Council vote last week. It means a great deal to have our colleagues look at what we hope to achieve and provide such overwhelming support!

As outlined in the proposal, “through the academic, scholarly, and administrative work of the department, along with a foundational and enduring commitment to authentic community engagement, the goals of this Indigenous-led department will be to meaningfully address:

  • existing health inequities
  • the scarcity of strength-based Indigenous health research
  • knowledge translation in community; and
  • systemic racism in the health system and health education system.”

The DIHW proposal is available on our CoM Faculty Council website.

Now we focus on these next approval stages and getting to a place where we are moving forward on infrastructure and resources to deliver on our commitment to Indigenous people in Saskatchewan and to our stated vision and mission and social accountability mandate as Saskatchewan’s only medical school.



Surveys help us communicate and improve

As was recently shared in E-News, we have the results of the 2022 employee engagement pulse survey. It and previous employee engagement surveys  provide us with a sense of where we are at and where we can make improvements. While things don’t change overnight in an organization as big as the CoM (nor the university and the healthcare system!), these surveys do provide a valuable internal communication tool from which we can all benefit through participation in the survey and our response to the survey results.

With this blog, I want to share some general information about the results of the pulse survey, and provide a heads up to you of a bigger survey coming up in 2023.

The 2022 pulse survey showed that College of Medicine employees’ overall engagement and that of employees across USask both came in at 58%. What wasn’t shared in E-News was the varying degrees of engagement employees identified beyond that figure. A further 22% identified as ‘almost engaged,’ which tells us with a little work, this group could move to ‘engaged’ and we would be reporting 80% in the engaged in their work category! Importantly, we learned that 8% of CoM employees identified as ‘indifferent’ and 11% are ‘disengaged’—concerning numbers because we aim to have a workplace where all employees are engaged in what they do. So of course we know that we can do more to get all employees more full involved in positive ways that inspire engagement.

Among the 20 survey questions, one was open ended, allowing for more individual thoughts and responses and capturing important themes for our college. For instance, faculty and staff have a general appreciation for the college with a high regard for people leaders and coworkers. Employees also feel a high sense of pride in the work that they do.

The 19 closed questions rolled up into the following 9 engagement drivers, with the resulting scores:

2022 College of Medicine Employee Engagement Pulse Survey results

As well, there were many valuable comments related to areas that the college can improve upon. For example: there were several mentions of disrespectful behaviour not being addressed; there are concerns around equity, diversity, and inclusion; and there were also a number of comments related to workload issues. College leadership is committed to both leveraging our areas of strength related to employee engagement, and more importantly, focusing on ways to improve the areas of concern. Thank you to those who took the time to provide us with this valuable feedback. We continue to work on ways to improve the CoM for all employees.

A larger, more comprehensive employee engagement survey will be taking place in late winter or early spring 2023—be sure to participate! More detailed information on the 2022 survey results and the upcoming survey will be provided in the dean’s blog next week.


MEDICAL EDUCATION: Thriving in Saskatchewan

Guest blog by Dr. Kent Stobart, vice-dean, Education

A lot has happened in recent years in medical education in our province. Saskatchewan is more present on the Canadian medical education scene than ever. We’ve grown and achieved so much here, and have built an excellent team and executive that have provided exceptional leadership for our CoM medical education programs. We are making important contributions—often leading them—to improvements that have national and international reach.

In short, we are seeing in so many ways and so often that we can and do have success at the highest level right here in Saskatchewan.

Some examples of what I mean: our dean is on the national education committee for the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), and I am a member of the AFMC’s senior education deans group. At those tables—and others—we bring ideas and solutions generated and tested at our own medical school and here in our own province.

We are also involved nationally with the work of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, providing input and learning about what others are doing and dealing with across the nation in these specialty areas. Our enhanced skills programs in surgery and anesthesiology support family medicine practitioners and improve care and services in rural areas; they are among few across the country and are nation leading.

So many medical education leaders in our province, with their teams, are doing cutting edge work, across areas that include program expansions in Regina and southeast Saskatchewan, curriculum and admissions reform, Indigenous health, postgrad accreditation, rural medicine and rural training programs, continuing medical education, enhanced ties with our provincial medical partner organizations, leadership education, medical scholarship, student affairs and wellness. In so many ways we are making a difference for Saskatchewan and its people, and serving as a model of excellence well beyond our provincial borders.

With all of the above in mind, this blog marks the first in a series of guest blogs from members of the medical education leadership team that will appear on Preston’s Page over the coming weeks and months. Each blog will delve into more detail in focused areas of work—most mentioned above—as a means of showcasing to you the excellent work, achievements and plans of medical education arising from within our very own CoM.

Stay tuned!