Earlier this month, I announced Dr. Keith Ogle has agreed to take on the role of Special Advisor to the Dean on Faculty. As most will be aware, the U of S has made an offer to practicing MD members of USFA to transition to alternate means of engagement with the CoM. So there is a lot of change, and this is a critical period for our college. The future model of MD faculty at the CoM is for us to design.
Over the last year, I have come to know many of the MDs who make great contributions to the CoM, as I acted in the role of Vice-Dean of Faculty Engagement. However, we now need more MD leadership and even more physician engagement as we work our way through this change. Keith has valuable past experience, previously as a faculty member and department head in FM, and more recently in clinical practice at St Paul’s. He is widely known in our MD community.
One of my challenges over the last year has been finding time to reach out to all of my colleagues throughout the province. Keith will work with me to extend the reach of the CoM across Saskatchewan.
I will also be launching an internal search this fall for a Vice-Dean of Faculty Engagement. Keith will support the VDFE as we continue with the transition to a one faculty model, inclusive of all those MDs contributing to the CoM.
As I have previously outlined, one of the main reasons for our challenges is that – as compared to our peer medical schools – we have had far fewer MDs involved with the CoM. To solve this problem, we must reach out to all of the MDs in our community.
I am struck at times by the history that divides the CoM from our medical community. While alumni take great pride in their alma mater, after entering practice, many see themselves on the outside. In fact this is not a Saskatchewan-only problem, but it may be more pronounced in some circles here.
Across the country, a model of distributed campuses has been adopted entirely by MD faculty who never planned on being “academics”. In 2003 there were 16 medical schools on 16 campuses. Now there are 17 medical schools on 29 campuses.
All four years of UGME and some PGME programs are being successfully taught by what we would call ‘community faculty’ in Prince George, Kelowna, Victoria, Regina (years 2,3, & 4), Windsor, St. Catherines, Waterloo, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sagueny, Chicoutemi, Saint John and Moncton. All of these cities – with the exception of Victoria – are smaller than our two campus cities.
Before trying it out in those cities, many MD’s said they could not see it working. In 2003, one year before the first students, the Victoria Medical Society voted against the new campus of UBC Medical School. Many in these towns were quoted as saying they chose to practice there to get away from the medical school.
I watched the Dalhousie campus in Saint John get started by a substantial group of early adopters. Within a year or two, many naysayers were now asking why they were not being given teaching opportunities. Both experienced and new practitioners have repeated this pattern at all of these campuses. In fact, we know 70% of Canadian medical school graduates now want to have teaching and research as part of their careers.
We also have evidence that doctors who teach are more up to date, and it is reasonable to assume their patients also benefit. We know doctors who teach report greater career satisfaction, and are more likely to stay in their communities.
I also recognize our CoM must be better integrated with hospitals and health regions if it is to be seen as relevant to most Saskatchewan physicians. Therefore, I have recently agreed to work on the Oversight Committee for the upcoming Patient Safety initiative. I am very excited to be involved as I have done lots of patient safety work in the past, but even more so as it allows me to get to know more about our provincial healthcare system. More to come in a future blog.
Faculty engagement is not just for our MD faculty. We have nearly 100 faculty members in basic sciences, medical education and CH&E who are all incredibly important to the mission of our CoM. In a future blog I will provide an update on the work our basic sciences colleagues are doing to restructure the basic sciences.
So, I look for your input and advice as we continue to build on faculty engagement at the CoM. Please engage with Keith as he assumes his new role. And as always my door is open and dialogue on my blog is encouraged.