With my last blog as dean, I want to share a few brief thoughts with this whole, amazing CoM team.
The first is about maintaining momentum. This, while onboarding a new dean in the near future through a great deal of change that cannot pause—change that includes the launch of the new physician assistant program and the potential launch of new programs in occupational therapy and speech language pathology, as well as continued program expansion plans in residency training programs, growth in the MD program, and in distributed medical education. Growth in research has been supported by successful recruitment of new scientists. This is a highly significant and exciting time for the college, and all of you are needed to keep all our important work progressing well. The trajectory the CoM is on is exhilarating!
The second is offering kudos to everyone for all that this great CoM team has accomplished over the past decade. Most recently, the PGME full accreditation visit—a huge coordination effort with multiple reviewers at multiple sites around the province—was completed and that is something to celebrate. There is, as always, improvements and more to do going forward, but it is great to be on the other side now of such a big lift: making that visit happen. I won’t list all our other achievements here, many of which have been acknowledged previously in this blog.
Third, just a really big thank you from me for your efforts, support, camaraderie and partnership. As I mentioned in my last blog, while I am truly excited to take on this challenge at the new UPEI medical school, Jane, Marie and I are also unquestionably sad to be leaving such wonderful friends and colleagues here in Saskatchewan.
However, I know you are in good hands with Marilyn Baetz stepping into the interim dean role next month, and I know she will play a big part in keeping the CoM momentum going, alongside a great team of dedicated professionals. I do want to encourage you to engage in the new dean search process underway now, and to support Marilyn and the new dean the same way you have supported me.
Finally, I wish you and your loved ones the very best this holiday season.
Guest blog by Dr. Trustin Domes, Director of Admissions
Fall is a busy time for the admissions office. From career fairs to applicant presentations and file reviews, the new admissions cycle is upon us. Every admissions cycle is important because admissions is the lifeblood of the College of Medicine and our newly admitted students represent a significant proportion of the future physician workforce of Saskatchewan. Given this, we need to ensure that our incoming students are representative of the population we serve and also have a strong connection to Saskatchewan. Based on research shared earlier in a related blog, the “Saskatchewan connection” has been shown to translate into future Saskatchewan-based practice. As a socially-accountable medical school with a mandate to train the future physicians for the province, we have to take applicants’ “Saskatchewan connection” into account when we select our future medical students.
In August, we welcomed the 2027 Medical Doctor (MD) class, a talented group of individuals we are excited to have in the college. This class was the first to be admitted under the new admissions renewal process. Not only have we admitted a diverse and highly Saskatchewan-connected class, these students are academically prepared and have academic admissions statistics on par with prior cohorts. After reviewing the class demographics, it is clear that this class embodies the renewal goals of admitting a Saskatchewan-connected class that is reflective of the geo-cultural and social fabric of the province. Renewal sought to nurture change to ensure admissions processes address diversity and the social accountability needs of Saskatchewan. We are excited to see how these changes will impact the future physician workforce and healthcare delivery throughout Saskatchewan.
When looking closer at the class data, significant strides have been made to increase representation of previously underrepresented groups in our MD program. Students with rural roots have historically been disadvantaged despite the need for more rural-based physicians in the province. The literature and our local data clearly demonstrate that those with rural roots are more likely to practice in a more rural setting after completing their medical training. Admissions renewal has produced a 250% increase in incoming students with rural roots (29% in 2023 vs. 11% in 2022).
Additionally, students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have significant barriers entering medical school despite data demonstrating that physicians with that background are more likely to have attitudes focusing on social accountability and patient-centered care. Our incoming class has more than double the representation of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds compared to the previous year (13% in 2023 vs. 6% in 2022). We are also proud to welcome 11 new Indigenous students to the College of Medicine this year, an increase from previous years as well (11% in 2023 vs. 8% in 2022). Again, data clearly shows that having more Indigenous physicians improves health outcomes of Indigenous patients and our local data shows that Indigenous students are more likely to stay in Saskatchewan and practice in rural locations here.
This year we also see a significant increase in the number of students coming into the MD program with a master’s degree (18% in 2023 vs. 13% in 2022). Additionally, the academic statistics (MCAT and GPA) are virtually identical between students at the Saskatoon and Regina campuses.
The Admissions Committee and Undergraduate Medical Education program are very pleased with the early results of admissions renewal. Welcoming a socially conscious and diverse class that is locally connected with stronger rural roots translates into more physicians for Saskatchewan, throughout Saskatchewan, to equitably meet the health needs of everyone who calls this province home. The admissions office is pleased to share admissions statistics for this year’s class, highlighting the strides that have been made towards our social accountability to the province of Saskatchewan.