Another busy, beautiful summer is upon us

I hope this blog finds you well and already enjoying the hot summer weather we’ve received early this year. Definitely we also must be reflecting on the challenges of wildfires right across our country that heat and wind have played a big part in. Let’s hope these circumstances only improve through the remaining months of summer in 2023.

With work pressures many in our college are feeling this summer, and other stresses we all manage in our lives and certainly are still working to resolve in healthcare, I do urge everyone to take some time for yourself with family and friends for some well-deserved downtime. Of course, with various time-sensitive areas of work underway now, I encourage and support flexibility in vacation planning and timeframes for our employees as they play their critical role in delivering on the CoM mission.

For myself, this summer will kick off with a trip to Calgary to enjoy the annual tradition with my daughter of running the Stampede half-marathon, and I’ll be playing my very first round of golf with my 7-year-old grandson! We then travel to New Brunswick to visit family and friends and spend lots of time with my two granddaughters, as well as my daughter and her husband, including four days at cottages on Prince Edward Island. Interspersed throughout the summer will be lots of golf, time in the garden and reading on the deck with two dogs at my feet.

I do want to take a few moments to reflect on another year at the college, and the strides we have made on many fronts.

We welcomed exceptionally talented new leaders to our college this past year. Most recently, Dr. Pat Brophy, a USask MD ’94 grad, joined us from New York in May as the new provincial department head of pediatrics. Dr. Mike Kelly became the new provincial department head of surgery this past February.

Dr. Janet Tootoosis joined our team as interim vice-dean Indigenous health. Over the past year she established a team forming the Office of the Vice-Dean Indigenous Health and that team, along with others, led amazing work resulting in the recent approval of a new Department of Indigenous Health and Wellness (DIHW) in our college.

We’ve continued to move forward on equity and diversity, and many of you participated in research conducted on our behalf by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission to develop a report that has given us a much greater understanding of systemic inequity issues we face. As I recently outlined on this blog page, we are now using that report alongside other initiatives—like ART in Med Ed being led by the Division of Social Accountability, our college-led EDI survey results, and your input through further discussion—to develop theme areas and an implementation plan for change. More to come on this important work!

We are a growing medical school, and given the challenges and needs of our healthcare system and its patients, this is certainly necessary and will be an important component of the province’s health human resources planning now and into the future. Examples of how we are growing can be found in the biomedical sciences undergraduate programs, co-delivered by our college with the College of Arts and Science. It can be found in new areas of training within Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME), with more growth planned, and the expansion of our family medicine sites to include southeast Saskatchewan.

In the School of Rehabilitation Science, it can be seen in the seat expansion announced earlier this year to 55 learners from 40 in the Master of Physical Therapy program, and in work underway to determine how and when we can add occupational therapy and speech language pathology to the programs delivered by the school.

There is a great deal of exciting work ahead, including the full accreditation review for PGME in November, next steps as we establish the new DIHW at the CoM, moving forward with a more concrete EDI plan for our college that is aligned with the university’s, to name only a few.

But for now, I hope you have some wonderful plans for enjoying the summer ahead!

MEDICAL EDUCATION: Postgraduate program shares recent successes and news

Guest blog by Dr. Anurag Saxena, associate dean, Postgraduate Medical Education

This is an exciting time for Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME) at our college. It is fast moving, and turbulent, and focused on the outcomes. A significant success was that all first-year residency positions in all Saskatchewan programs for 2023 were filled after the second iteration of the Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS) match. Within that broad achievement, I want to emphasize the amazing and inspiring accomplishment by our Department of Family Medicine program.

CaRMS 2023 – Kudos to Family Medicine! The big news: all family medicine spots were filled in the first iteration of the match. This is highly commendable, since most programs across the country had vacancies—in in some programs, even after the second iteration. This is a huge accomplishment and kudos to Dr. Sheila Smith, Dr. Kathy Lawrence and all the site directors for their work in enhancing family medicine education, highly effective marketing of family medicine, and principled changes to the match process.

Below, I will share updates in various areas of focus in PGME. Our ongoing work is both inward and outward looking—and a significant portion straddles this boundary.

Strategic Plan: The PGME strategic plan was finalized earlier. Currently work is nearing completion of identifying goals, targets and metrics. Thank you to Kaitlin Pike on our college staff for leading this work.

New residency and fellowship programs: We are engaged in developing  new residency and fellowship programs. We will be submitting an application in the near future for dermatology, for a targeted start date of July 2024. A fellowship program in clinical chemistry will launch shortly. Discussions and work to develop new programs in anatomic pathology (renamed diagnostic and molecular pathology just recently); hematology; plastic surgery; ear, nose and throat; urology; vascular surgery, neonatology, interventional radiology and critical care medicine are at various stages. Programs in sleep medicine and point-of-care ultrasound are possibilities in the future.

Changes to Competency-Based Medical Education (CBME): We will continue our work in adopting and adapting changes, specifically to Competence by Design, as articulated in the new document from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. This “shift” allows for more flexibility and adjustments in various structural and process components. Family medicine continues to make incremental improvements in its implementation of CBME.

Accreditation 2023: The site-survey visit to review our residency programs and the PGME office is scheduled for Nov. 26 to Dec. 1 this year. We go into this accreditation visit with a pre-survey status of “A-RR” (accredited program with follow-up by regular review) for all our programs, except one with the status “A-APOR” (accredited program with follow-up by an action plan outcome report).

Preparing for this visit has opened up many opportunities to develop and nurture new interpersonal professional and organizational relationships. The commitment to high quality postgraduate medical education is obvious and heartening. The support from senior leadership has been exemplary. Through collaborations with programs and academic and administrative leaders and in partnership with Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) leaders, the work being done under the auspices of the Academic Program Enhancement Committee, the Accreditation Oversight Committee and deliberations at the PGME committee is moving as planned.

Together, we are make meaningful and sustained changes to not only address the areas for improvement but also build on our strengths and differentiators. The surveyors’ recommendations will be announced on Dec. 1 and the final accreditation review results will be made at a national accreditation meeting in early to mid-2024.

Collaborative work with SHA: There is an ongoing formalization of structures and processes between the College of Medicine and the SHA to identify and address the issues that impact postgraduate medical education, and monitor outcomes. This has been instrumental in resolving many infrastructure issues. The leadership support and involvement from our college and SHA have been effective and inspiring. I sincerely thank Dr. Brandy Winquist, Adrienne Hagen and Steve Chard from the SHA and Crystal Maslin from our college in steering this ongoing generative work.

Integration of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) in the workforce: The PGME office has been carrying out commissioned work for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Immigration and Career Training related to IMGs in our province. The work is nearing completion and the report and recommendations will be coming out this summer.

Internationalization: We are moving forward simultaneously on three fronts in this area. The first is expansion of residency training opportunities for externally funded residents. Currently we have agreements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. We are exploring agreements with other countries. The second area is opportunities for international physicians to acquire focused competencies in specific areas and upon completion return to their countries. Currently we are exploring specific opportunities for physicians in Haiti and Mozambique. The work focused on Haiti has been led by Dr. Huw Rees and the discussions on trainees from Mozambique are ongoing with Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine. The third area is exploring international collaborations for learner and faculty mobility and research. This internationalization work is aligned with our university’s strategic vision to be The University the World Needs.

My sincere thanks to all involved in enhancing the quality of USask postgraduate medical education for your dedication and leadership.