A lot has gone on this fall at the College of Medicine. Most exciting is of course the news that we have come off probation with the Committee on the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) and its American equivalent, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), and have had our accreditation extended until the spring of 2018. Thanks to all. This now gives our Vice-Dean Education Dr. Kent Stobart and his team in UGME two years to prepare for a successful accreditation in the fall of 2017, a process on which we are committed to keeping you updated.
I am currently away at meetings of the American Association of Medical Colleges in Baltimore. Last week I attended the Treasury Board meeting with our new president, Peter Stoicheff and the vice-presidents to present on the U of S and the renewal at the CoM, attended the board meeting of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada and attended a RCPSC Summit on Physician Employment in Ottawa.
Another significant change in the college was the progress on the faculty transition to a “one-faculty” model. As many know, our MD faculty association members were offered an incentive package to transition to a new model of faculty engagement. The outcome is that 114/130 members expressed interest in the transition as of the deadline of October 31.
I know for many this was a complex and personally challenging decision. I spoke to at least 100 of the faculty association members to better understand their concerns. I also tried to call everyone individually and offer my apologies to the few I did not get to before the deadline. This transition is one that is a priority to me, and will continue to be a decision I’m open to feedback on as we move forward.
While this direction was established before I joined the CoM, the plan makes sense to me as I have repeatedly emphasized the biggest challenge faced by the CoM is the amount of MD time devoted to academic and scholarly pursuits compared to our medical school peers. We are moving to a model of physician engagement that is used at all Canadian medical schools and our goal is to retain all faculty members who are committed to an academic career and engage more fully MDs already in the province and newcomers to Saskatchewan.
While we tried to address many concerns, such as holding research grants, supervising grad students etc., the concern about the system’s (CoM, HRs, Gov’t) capacity to develop sufficient ACFPs and contracts prior to the end of March was heard loud and clear. To address this concern, we put together a CoM team to work with Tammy Goebel (SHR) and Ministry of Health officials. Sherry Peters, an HR professional from U of S experienced in change management, and Erin Roach, an experienced physician services administrator from RQHR, have been seconded to this team and will assist with these arrangements. They are supported by Dr. Gill White, who has been involved in the ACFP development from the start. The team is backed up by Brad Steeves and our financial team in the Dean’s Office. They are already hard at work.
In terms of the CoM team, this has been a busy fall. I am certainly thankful for the energy and dedication Brad Steeves has devoted to acting COO, while the search for a full-time replacement is proceeding quickly. We have a new director of finance, Shaz Azam. I have an acceptance for our vice-dean of research who will be announced shortly. We have completed the pathology unified head search and we are meeting final candidates in obstetrics/gynecology and medicine and have had first visits from superb candidates for the chair in MS Research. Finally, I am committed to transforming the college’s record in fund raising and in that regard I am absolutely delighted to have recruited Gail Shivak, a very experienced and highly regarded fundraiser, as our director of advancement.
Another major event this fall was an intensive financial planning exercise to provide the university and the government with a five-year projection for the CoM budget. This culminated in a two-week, all-hands-on-deck exercise that converted the plans in The Way Forward and the needs I have articulated for more MD faculty, biomedical sciences reform, distributed medical education and growing research into a comprehensive financial projection. This will be an essential piece of work as we continue on our journey to be one of the best medical schools in Canada.
Intense work continues in preparation for the PGME accreditation in December and I look forward to that opportunity to interact with our peers. There is lots to talk about in PGME with the movements towards competency-based education, social accountability in PGME and the recent concerns about the right mix of programs and positions across the country—a topic I will investigate further in the upcoming blog about the recent Summit on Physician Employment.
Finally, yesterday was an important time to reflect on the contributions made by our members of the Armed Forces—past and present. My uncle of the same name was a casualty of the Second World War. I remember many a cold day standing at Remembrance Day ceremonies as a Boy Scout and Air Cadet. I took an afternoon last week in Ottawa to visit the Aviation Museum and was reminded again of the huge contribution by the Prairies in the aviation training programs for allied air forces during the Second World War. This example took particular advantage of the Prairie landscape and weather, and is only one of many efforts and sacrifices by Canadians. I am always struck by the names of U of S casualties engraved on the stairwell wall outside the President’s Office in the Peter MacKinnon Building. If you have not seen it, I suggest you search it out someday.
As always please engage in discussion. This blog is a great place for discourse on important topics affecting the CoM. And my door is always open!