Happy New Year!

First, I would like to wish all an engaging, interesting, and prosperous 2016. Certainly for our college I am confident all three will apply!!

We continue on our agenda for transformation at the CoM. Dr. Marek Radomski, our new vice-dean research, starts on March 14. I also expect to be announcing our new unified heads of medicine and obstetrics/gynecology shortly as well as the chief operating officer.

Our roll-out of the new curriculum continues and this year we will manage the hurdle of the double cohort of JURSI’s starting August 15th. I encourage all to remember we are making this change to bring in line our curriculum with that of other Canadian schools and ensure our students are not at a competitive disadvantage in the increasingly competitive match for residency positions.

This year will also see the implementation of our strategy for distributed medical education. We continue to work on a plan for restructuring our biomedical science programs and departments. As we are well on our way to completing the implementation of The Way Forward it will be time to launch the development of a new strategic plan for the CoM by years end.

In the Health Sciences Building, the renovations to B wing will be completed this summer should be ready for classes after Labour Day and will enhance the learning and laboratory spaces for our students, while the planning for the A-wing renovations is now underway as well. Our changes to the Health Sciences Council are starting to gain traction as we work together to enhance inter-professional education and interdisciplinary health research and hopefully before summer we will see an official announcement on the launch of the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient Oriented Research.

On campus, change continues as our new president, Peter Stoicheff, makes his mark and a new provost will be recruited. In terms of the priority on Aboriginal students and programs, it will be exciting to see the opening of the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Centre. I had a sneak preview before Christmas and it is beautiful. We in the Health Sciences Building are now connected by the tunnel system to the rest of campus. Now I can go to dean’s meetings in short sleeves!

Since I mentioned deans, a fun fact is that the timing of my term is such that by the end of 2016 10 of the 15 dean’s and executive directors of schools will less senior than me!! Who said universities are slow to change?

For me a huge priority remains faculty engagement. We have a team working with those MD members of the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association who wish to transition to a new relationship with the CoM. For many this will be the Academic Clinical Funding Plan, which we see as a major means to engage many more doctors in the work of the CoM. An essential next step is the design of a new model of faculty appointment and promotion that is inclusive of all of those doctors dedicated to the CoM success.

As many know, I took on much of this faculty work myself so as to personally get to know as many faculty members as possible. As you may have seen we have now advertised for a vice-dean of faculty engagement and I would encourage people to think about taking on this role.

This is a unique opportunity to help shape the future of faculty engagement at the CoM and make the CoM the kind of place alumni and graduates from across Canada want to come and practice, teach and do research. The university and the province (despite the financial headlines) are still behind our goal of being the best small medical school in Canada and I think this is an exciting opportunity to make a difference.

Speaking of faculty engagement, I, along with our vice-dean of education, Dr. Kent Stobart spent a day and a half last week in La Ronge. Dr. Sean Groves hosted us and proudly showed us their community, their hospital and their education programs. We had dinner with a group of faculty and did hospital rounds with staff and residents the following morning. It is a great medical community providing great care in the face of some unique and challenging circumstances that many of us never face.

We then spent several hours with the family medicine residents. Having run a FM residency site for six years and visited many I can attest to the fact this was one happy group of residents and a great training program. And they are the only residency program in the county that can claim 100 per cent retention of graduates. In fairness, they are now on their third cohort of two residents per year but is a great illustration of what distributed medical education can do for a community as well as testimony to the quality of the FM trading and FM community.

So our visit to La Ronge was an inspiration and a great way to start 2016! It was not quite as good as spending Christmas with a new grandson (rolling over at three months but grandparents will claim the most ridiculous things) but it was a great way to spend 1.5 days at work.

So 2016 is off to a fast start. As always I am anxious to hear from you through interaction with the blog, by email or in person. My door is open.

Happy New Year.

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