You may have seen the announcement today from the provost about the next major chapter in my life. I must say at the outset, this is truly a bittersweet moment and a decision that took some considerable thought and reflection on my own and with family and friends. Thanks to all those who listened and their wise counsel.
For those who have not heard, I will start on April 1, 2024 as the founding Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Prince Edward Island. I will also serve as the Chief Academic Officer at Health PEI. Many of you know that I am from the Maritimes and Dalhousie University, but not all would know I am actually from PEI, where I was born and spent the first 15 years of my life, as well as many summer vacations and family events over the years.
I must admit, the opportunity to build something new, grow medical education capacity (which I have been doing now for 25 years) and improve healthcare—and do it in my home province—is truly exciting and an opportunity I could not let slip by.
But it was hardly an easy decision. My wife, Jane, and I and our daughter, Marie (and our dog Murphy) were exceedingly warmly welcomed nearly 10 years ago in this College of Medicine (CoM), at USask, and in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan. All across campus I have had exceptional support and especially appreciate the wonderful colleagues around the USask deans’ table, the confidence in me, and the support provided by our university senior administration, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Ministry of Health. I add to that the Saskatchewan Medical Association, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research, and the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada.
While my final day, formally, as dean of the CoM is April 1 next year, I will be taking an administrative leave from January 1-March 31, 2024. But this will not be my last blog. I still have work to do, and I will have many more opportunities to thank all those who have been so good to us. But I must say here that the medical doctor students in our college have been wonderful, and each year have been so ably led by the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan. The residents and the Resident Doctors of Saskatchewan have been superb colleagues and collaborators. These comments are equally true for our physiotherapy students and graduate students.
At the CoM, we have built an exceptional team. We have an amazing administrative team across our college, second to none in the country. Our faculty is growing, winning awards, and increasing our success in research. And I am so proud of the leaders in the deanery and our provincial and department heads.
Many of you will know of the amazing work of Jane and Murphy as a Saint John Ambulance Therapy Dog Team, and they also have enormous gratitude for the way they were welcomed into Saskatchewan and allowed the opportunity to both thrive and create change. Some will know of the great work my daughter Marie has done in the Health Sciences Supply Centre.
As many know, I would have finished my second term as dean on June 30, 2024. The early departure is due to timelines at UPEI. They wanted a dean last July!
The truth is this guy must have itchy feet—at least when it comes to work. I have been at this 40 years! I spent 10 years on clinical care and hospital leadership, followed by 10 years of family medicine education and College of Family Physicians of Canada leadership, then 10 years at Dalhousie leading family medicine, growing distributed medical education and as senior associate dean, and now nearly 10 years as dean of medicine here at USask. Do you see a pattern here?! I am not ready to retire and feel I have one big thing left, and then UPEI came along searching for a founding dean.
As I said, I still have some time to work with you so there will be more time for me to convey my gratitude. But there are a few things I want to emphasize today.
First: this is an amazing medical school with amazing people. An example of that just this past week: our presence at the International Conference on Residency Education put on by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada—and the awards that came to USask were impressive. Second: the recent growth in programs and research and the province and university’s confidence in us for anticipated future growth are inspiring. Finally: the leaders and people needed to lead the CoM to an even greater future are here. Just as encouraging is the huge interest there is in being my successor. The provost and the search committee have some hard work to do—but I can tell you it is a good problem to have.
Many of you have known about this potential move for me because of the public nature of the process at UPEI. For some this may come as a surprise. As mentioned, though, my work is not done yet. I want you to know I love the USask College of Medicine. This past 10 years has been a gift, and the most interesting, inspiring, challenging, and rewarding work of my life.
As I have often said in closing my blog, my door is open and I am happy to chat—even from PEI.