Excellent exchanges at CCME

Guest blog by Kent Stobart, vice-dean medical education

The 2018 Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME) was a great event for our college, with eight oral presentations, seven posters and one workshop provided by members of our faculty, students and staff. The conference also serves as an opportunity to highlight medical education achievers. From the CoM, Dr. Maryam Mehtar, program director and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, received the Canadian Association of Medical Education (CAME) Award of Merit, and Dr. Brent Thoma, assistant professor in the Department of Emergency received the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) Young Educator Award.

The conference was held in Halifax at the end of April. It’s the premiere Canadian meeting on medical education, is held annually, and is the initiative of five partners: the AFMC, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the MCC, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the CAME. And it is a wonderful exchange—members of the CoM were there both as providers and recipients of knowledge, and information on best practices and opportunities to improve our methods.

Other highlights of the conference, where we from the CoM were on the receiving end of this exchange, include the opening plenary delivered by Margaret Trudeau. She spoke candidly about her life and her personal struggle with her mental health issue. Dr. Eric Holmboe, senior vice-president with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education provided a serious look at the relationship between academic health science and competency based medical education (CBME). His story of an elderly gentleman who was passed from clinical service to clinical service and eventually left to die was made all the more powerful when he shared that his own father recently died while in the United States’ health care system. He provided an understanding of how patient safety and CBME can lead to better health outcomes.

Though not the holy grail, CBME is one component of improved patient outcomes; this was at the heart of a session featuring a debate between Dr. Jonathan Sherbino, a McMaster University emergency doctor, and Dr. Pim Teunissen from Maastricht University in the Netherlands. The conference was closed with Dr. Ian Bowmer’s farewell speech, as he leaves his position as executive director of the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) after 11 years, in which he shared his valuable insights on change as it impacts medical education and health care.

Every year, the CCME keeps academic leaders and administrators apprised of national and international developments in medical education. As the CoM strives for continuous improvement in the quality of our teaching and learning, this conference is an important cornerstone of our knowledge and development. The conference both supports and is evidence of Canada’s status as an international leader in medical education.

Humboldt Broncos, all connected to them, in our thoughts

Saskatchewan people, as well as many across Canada and beyond, rallied around the Humboldt Broncos and all those affected by Friday’s terrible highway accident. We extend our condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones, and our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and their families and friends. Many are grieving and feeling this loss deeply, but I hope have found comfort in the incredible, heartfelt and widespread support of our province, our nation and the world.

A number of our medical faculty, residents, students, physical therapists and alumni were directly involved in providing care following the accident. To each of you, to the other care providers and direct responders, I and the College of Medicine offer our humble thanks and appreciation.

Many in the CoM are directly impacted through other connections beyond our work and learning roles—Saskatchewan is such a small, connected and close-knit community. I add my voice in reminding you that others are ready to provide you with support in the wake of a very difficult weekend. Find specific information below.

CoM students:

CoM residents:

For CoM faculty, staff, residents and students:

Assistance is also available to physicians through the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Saskatchewan Medical Association. I, and all in the dean’s office and in leadership roles in the CoM will also help in any way we can. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

This tragedy is a reminder of how suddenly our lives can change and that the people in our lives are so incredibly important. We can lose sight of that in the day-to-day rush of things. The outpouring of support that began Friday evening and continues now underlines just how needed and valued our family, friends and community are to each of us.

Thank you, once again, to our faculty, alumni, residents and students for all you have done since Friday, and continue to do, to care for and support our patients, their families and friends.




Update from the Biomedical Sciences

Guest blog by
Jo-Anne R. Dillon (Lead, BMSC Merger and Governance)
Scott Napper (Lead, Undergraduate BMSC Program Development)

The university-level approval process for merging the departments in the Division of Biomedical Sciences (BMSC) is underway. This merger will result in the division moving from five to two departments. Currently, the five BMSC departments are: Anatomy and Cell Biology; Biochemistry; Microbiology and Immunology; Physiology; and Pharmacology. The proposed new structure will bring these units together as: the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology (BMI); and the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology (APP).

The merger was initiated in May 2016, when the biomedical sciences faculty voted to move to a two-department structure. There were several reasons for this:

  • enhancing multi-disciplinary approaches to effectively investigate and understand complex biology, to facilitate research and training, and to generate new and collaborative research initiatives
  • the two groupings are natural, reflecting joint interests, and will increase critical mass in each new department
  • more engaged faculty, supported by better use of resources for teaching and research
  • increased opportunity to recruit postgraduate students
  • opportunities to update and enhance the biomedical sciences undergraduate curriculum

Since May 2016, the department heads and individual departments of the BMSC Division have consulted regularly regarding the merger. The proposed governance follows that of all university departments, with the department heads reporting to the dean. The dean has clearly stated his support by confirming that faculty numbers will be maintained and that two new department head positions will be recruited after the merge. The merger proposal has been outlined in a draft governance document that has been approved by the individual BMSC departments, the CoM’s Faculty Council (January 2018), and the Planning and Priorities Committee (PPC) of University Council (March 2018). We expect it will be considered for approval at the April 19 University Council meeting.

The target date for the transition to two departments is July 1, 2018. The affected departments have begun to meet as combined departments to discuss transition and collegial processes. Interim department heads will lead the departments, with a plan to recruit new heads for July 1, 2019.

The further key component of the new BMSC structure involves the renewal of the BMSC undergraduate program and ultimately the transfer of the associated degree programs to the College of Medicine from the College of Arts and Science. These proposed changes to the undergraduate BMSC programs have been developed with strong support from the College of Arts and Science. At the present time, it is envisaged that first-year students would enter the program through Arts and Science and then transfer in their second year into the CoM. They would ultimately be granted a BSc in Biomedical Sciences, with specializations in Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, Physiology and Pharmacology, Neuroscience, or Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences. The latter two specializations represent two exciting new majors. It is anticipated that these programs will involve 800 or more students, providing opportunities for honours projects, summer recruitments and eventually recruitments to graduate studies, the medical doctor program and other professional schools across campus.

An updated biomedical science program, building on the considerable achievements of the BMSC platform, will provide our students with a number of academic advantages. The BMSC departments in the College of Medicine were early adopters of a multi-disciplinary approach to teaching. A coordinated effort by all of the BMSC departments in 2009 resulted in the creation of a mandatory “Biomedical Science (BMSC) Platform,” which has over the past 10 years provided a strong interdisciplinary foundation for our undergraduate BMSC students.

The new two-department structure will enable expansion of the multi-disciplinary platform into the third year of study. For each of the new APP and BMI departments, faculty have identified and/or developed core third-year courses that reflect critical skills and knowledge that exist at the interface of the respective disciplines of each new department. A new Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE), providing students with an authentic research experience where they must develop and test a research hypothesis, has been developed and will have its first student intake (microbiology and immunology) in January 2019. This CURE represents a considerable departure from traditional laboratory-based classes.

We will continue to bring you information and updates as the BMSC transition progresses.


Ally is a verb!

I again had the wonderful opportunity this week to provide opening remarks at the 2018 Health Innovation and Public Policy Conference. Ever since arriving at the U of S I have been astounded at the initiative of our College of Medicine students and their colleagues across the health science programs in promoting change and improvement for marginalized and disadvantaged individuals and communities.

Again this year the students owned and led an incredible conference with expert speakers from across Canada and the U.S. on an amazing spectrum of topics: the opioid crisis, legalization of marijuana, Indigenous health, the HIV crisis in Saskatchewan, health for refugees and the uninsured, and social media and health advocacy. I would like to congratulate these student leaders and the 400+ participants. Our students inspire all of us.

In my opening remarks I alluded to the three A’s of awareness, advocacy and activism. One of my favourite stories of activism is that of Dr. John Snow and the Broad Street pump. During the London cholera epidemic of 1854, Dr. Snow mapped the cases of cholera to the neighbourhood of the Broad Street water pump. For this work he is known as one of the fathers of modern epidemiology. He became an activist when he successfully advocated for the removal by local authorities of the handle on the pump!

A more personal example is the New Brunswick family physician, a former colleague, Dr. Stephen Hart, who very early in his career led the charge to establish seat belt legislation in that province in 1983. Both are examples of advocacy that led to important change. But are physicians restricted to advocacy only on medical issues?

This brings me to my recent blog supporting Indigenous members of our community following the decision in the Gerald Stanley trial into the death of Colten Boushie. I appreciate all of the personal and public feedback I have received since that time, and have made time for further reading, reflection and conversation as a result.

One of the biggest surprises from the feedback was the perspective expressed by some that a dean of medicine has no place commenting on a legal matter or for that matter any public controversy that was not medical or education-related! This view doesn’t align with a free society, and more importantly it contradicts all we teach about patient-centred care, student-centred education and patient-oriented research. We do not need to be experts to be advocates.

In light of our teaching about the impact of the social determinants of health on our patients and our communities, I believe as physicians we always must place ourselves somewhere on the continuum of awareness to activism. Awareness is a bare minimum! In fact, many have argued in numerous situations involving inequity and injustice that those who are knowledgeable and well-intentioned but silent are, in fact, a barrier to change and progress.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”   – Elie Wiesel (Romanian-born American-Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor.)

Finally, in my reading, I found the statement: “ally is a verb,” which led to even more reflection, and to this blog’s title. Another blogger, Liz Goodwin (on therapeuticjustice.blogspot.ca), wrote under the same title and used a metaphor I could understand: running! She said seeing oneself as an ally, in the noun sense, is like running on a sunny temperate day on a flat course.

“Yeah,” I thought, “that is what life is made for!”

But the real runner in me knew if I was to be in the race, I must run hills and intervals, do speed work, and run in rainy weather, on cold days and snow-packed trails, and keep going even when I was too exhausted to do so.

To live the verb form of ally means ongoing learning and self-reflection, listening, focusing on those who do not have my privilege, removing bias and barriers, taking action when appropriate (keeping firmly in mind “nothing about us without us”), and speaking out.

Thanks again for all those who provided feedback. It was appreciated. And I reiterate the College of Medicine’s support to our Indigenous patients, colleagues, and learners as we work to face truth and build reconciliation.

Our college and Competence by Design

As I had mentioned in my first blog of 2018, Competence by Design (CBD) is a key topic on my mind as we move forward with the strategic priorities of our college.

One of the changes in the ongoing reform of medical education is a shift towards Competency-Based Medical Education (CBME). CBD is a multi-year transformational change initiative aimed at implementing a CBME approach to delivery of residency training and specialty practice in Canada, led by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The underlying rationale is that physicians will be better equipped to meet evolving societal needs and to provide better patient care. CBME is an outcomes-based approach to education delivery where learners must demonstrate that they have acquired all competencies required for unsupervised practice of medicine. It ensures that both learning and assessment are focused and individualized.

Our residency programs have been adopting CBME in a phased manner. Family Medicine has been reforming its residency program since 1998, with a focus on workplace-based assessment and curriculum reform through triple C competency-based curriculum: comprehensive care and education; continuity of care and education; and centered in Family Medicine. Specialty training has been based upon competency framework(s). However, the formalization of the CBD initiative by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada is relatively recent.

Although not a paradigm shift, CBD comes with its own language and vocabulary, such as: entrustable professional activities – a key task of a discipline in a clinical setting that can be delegated to a resident who has demonstrated sufficient competence; milestones – a marker of an individual’s ability along a developmental continuum; competency – observable ability that develops through stages of expertise from novice to mastery; and other terms describing stages of development. The key change with this approach is an emphasis on direct observation and feedback. The preceptor’s role shifts to coaching (assessment for learning) from the earlier position of judgment requiring pass/fail decisions (assessment of learning).

The PGME unit, under the leadership of Associate Dean Dr. Anurag Saxena, is leading the implementation of CBD at the CoM using three guiding principles: collaborative endeavor, distributed leadership and change tailored to developmental readiness. Organization-wide ownership, including by our learners, is at the heart of CBD. The individualized approach to implementation for each residency program requires coordination of efforts, consistent stakeholder engagement and appropriate resources.

Lessons from earlier and ongoing implementation of triple-C curriculum in Family Medicine are particularly informative and I am glad to see these are being applied, along with involvement of our provincial head of Family Medicine, Dr. Kathy Lawrence, in CBD implementation for specialty programs. Fluid coordination between PGME and Faculty Development, led by Dr. Cathy MacLean, also positively reflects how we leverage our strengths in a strategic manner to achieve our goals. Our provincial heads are crucial to success in this implementation and I know they are involved at the outset in CBD implementation in their departments.

Anesthesiology was the first program at our institution to go live with CBD, doing so in July 2017. Being first out of the gate, this program has been instrumental in clearing the path for others to follow. Emergency Medicine, Nephrology and Surgical Foundations are preparing for a July 2018 launch.

I am aware of the challenges inherent in balancing innovation and creativity with delivery of results in a timely manner, and I’m confident that our PGME unit and residency programs will make this transition successfully. CBD implementation in our college is a fine example of integrating academic and administrative leadership in instituting change across our programs, and CBME offers an opportunity to evolve through reflection on our own practices in teaching and learning.



Next step: executing our strategy

Guest Blog by Sinead McGartland, Director of Planning and Projects

In the summer of 2017, with much of what was laid out in The Way Forward accomplished, our college began developing a new strategic plan. This was a time to unite and engage a large audience for input, design and approval of our 2017-2022 strategic plan. With more than 200 people participating, the process was very successful. We came together and proudly articulated why we exist and how we will deliver our plan—reiterated here to remind you. I also share with you information on what happens next.

Why do we exist?

Our vision is that we are leaders in improving the health and well-being of the people of Saskatchewan and the world.

How will we deliver?

As a socially accountable organization, we improve health through innovative and interdisciplinary research and education, leadership, community engagement, and the development of culturally competent, skilled clinicians and scientists. Collaborative and mutually beneficial partnerships with Indigenous peoples and communities are central to our mission.

What will we do?

We are confident that by focusing on seven priorities we will deliver on our mission: research, Indigenous health, health system alignment, social accountability and community engagement, faculty engagement, distributed medical education and quality education. We will also focus on enabling components, such as our people, processes and structures, to ensure our priorities are effectively supported.

How will we know we have accomplished our plan?

The final component is execution.

We need to find the right balance in delivering on each priority while supporting integration and opportunities for synergy across all initiatives. Our leadership team, through senior leadership council, is accountable for the progress of our entire plan. They are the plan’s executive sponsors, and will complete ‘wall walks’ to assess short-term progress as well as formal bi-annual progress checks, and will report outcomes to the college on an annual basis.

For each of our priorities, committing to clearly stated activities will move our high-level plan to a concrete and actionable plan. It’s been statistically shown that simply by writing and sharing our plan, we are 60 to 80 per cent more likely to deliver! Since the high-level strategic plan was shared with the college last spring, work has been completed across each strategic priority, including a vision statement for each, identified objectives, and activities sequenced over the five-year period. For each priority, key indicators that we track to demonstrate progress on delivering our plan are being identified.

At this stage, integration is critical to our success. Some of the specific activities that have been identified benefit other priority areas and some require the same people to complete the work.  Achieving the right balance of moving forward and integrating our work means we can comprehensively and confidently accomplish what we’ve agreed to in our 2017-2022 plan.

As we implement our CoM plan, we are also ensuring alignment with the university’s planning process. Our plan fits nicely into the U of S “weave” identified through its planning processes, where we are aligned with the core areas of curiosity, collaborations and communities.

Contribute to the objectives/activities under the CoM plan:

  • Share what you have been doing or plan to do that contributes to our plan priorities! Send a short paragraph to communications@usask.ca on your activity or achievement, which priority it contributes to, and how it contributes to that priority.
  • Join the many opportunities that will occur over the next few months to inform and influence the next iterations of the plan, including joining the dean for a wall walk to learn about our progress. Watch for more information!

The success of our strategy will come down to the strength of our execution—our past accomplishments tell us we are on the right path for a great future together!

“It is not truly a ‘shared vision’ until it connects with the personal visions of people throughout the organization.”  – Senge (1990)


Everyone can make a difference

I, like many, am still reeling over the outcome of the trial for the killing of Colten Boushie, which has dominated our news since Friday. I hope all our Indigenous students, residents, faculty, staff and patients know that your college supports you.

For me, the first shock was the use of peremptory challenge to eliminate anyone of Indigenous appearance from jury duty. As my wife had once served on a jury, I was familiar with this aspect of our criminal justice system, but it never occurred to me it could be used in such an openly racist manner here in Canada.

As I am in medicine and not law, I will make no further comment on the legal system. But this situation raises two questions for me.

First, what are we all doing this week, this month, and beyond to support Indigenous colleagues, learners, friends and patients? There is little doubt in my mind, if I was from any minority group that experienced this, my world would have changed on Friday night. It is incumbent on the non-Indigenous among us to reach out to our Indigenous community members and reaffirm our commitment to reconciliation and Indigenous health and well-being.

Second, as a part of the education, science and healthcare communities, what can we do to make things better, in response? As citizens we can take political action, and in our professional and learner roles, we can search for our own opportunities to make a positive change to the racism that still exists in our university and healthcare systems. As educators, we have a particular duty and opportunity, expressed by Senator Murray Sinclair, who identifies education as the key to reconciliation.

Our own actions can positively change the collective future of this province. We need to do this for our Indigenous colleagues and students and all members of our college. We need to acknowledge the hurt and anger and work toward a better society, one that is just and honourable. We need to create safe, respectful spaces to dialogue about racism. And we must respect, support and listen to Indigenous people as they make their voices heard.

Everyone can make a difference.


2018 priorities and challenges

One of the things I love about university life is that we have not one but two annual opportunities to reflect on our work, evaluate our priorities, and reignite our passion for what we do—every new academic year and every new year. So, first, let me wish all of our learners, faculty, staff and partners a happy, prosperous and productive 2018. My year got off to a great start with one of my favorite events of the academic year: speaking to the Med 2 class on leadership as part of a panel discussion on the CanMED roles.

As I reflect on the upcoming year, I remind myself and all of you that we have already talked at length about our collective priorities and we proudly presented that high level strategic plan to our peers during our recent accreditation review. In the coming weeks and months, you will hear more as we add detailed goals, objectives, actions and metrics to our five-year strategic plan, as well as on how it aligns with the university’s strategic planning process currently underway.

To start, I want to ensure you know my thoughts for 2018. First, let’s recall our mutually agreed vision and mission statements, which underpin all we do, followed by my reflections on our priorities for this year.

Vision: We are leaders in improving the health and well-being of the people of Saskatchewan and the world.

Mission: As a socially accountable organization, we improve health through innovative and interdisciplinary research and education, leadership, community engagement, and the development of culturally competent, skilled clinicians and scientists. Collaborative and mutually beneficial partnerships with Indigenous peoples and communities are central to our mission.


Strengthen Research Capacity – 2017 ended with some good news for research. Dr. Stuart Skinner in Regina received a $2 million CIHR team grant, with total project funding of $4.65 million, for on-reserve diagnosis and treatment of HIV, HCV and sexually-transmitted disorders with a goal of building a First Nations led initiative that meets community needs and integrates Western and Indigenous approaches. The team is composed of almost 50 researchers, clinicians, policy makers and knowledge users with about half being Indigenous community members. At the 2017 Santé Awards Evening, hosted by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), MS research was a top focus, with Dr. Michael Levin, U of S Chair in Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Research, speaking about his work, and an MS patient shared her very moving story and her hopes for the future. Also at the Santé Awards, Dr. Cory Neudorf, Community Health and Epidemiology, received the SHRF Impact Award for his research on the effects of socio-economic status on health, and its dissemination to decision-makers, health boards, and regional committees.

In the biomedical and population health sciences, we have enjoyed great success in securing research funding, including through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), with $2.3 million and nearly $1.5 million awarded, respectively. Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine is co-leading a team awarded $16.5 million from the national Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development to increase maternal and newborn survival in Mozambique. These are only a few examples of the great work and achievements of our population health and biomedical scientists in 2017!

We need to continue building on these and other successes, however, and with some major progress made on things like the new MD curriculum and accreditation, I know I must put more of my attention to research. In that regard, I must emphasize what a big year it will be for our biomedical science departments. Under great leadership from Drs. Jo-Anne Dillon and Scott Napper and the hard work of many people great progress has been made on both the merger to two departments and the new biomedical sciences program. You will be hearing much more shortly.

Indigenous Health – Again, 2017 ended with the arrival of our Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health, Dr. Alexandra King and our new faculty member, Dr. Malcolm King, in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology. There is much more to do in responding to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Specifically, I think of work on the best structure and resources within the CoM to fulfill our commitment to this priority, engagement with our Indigenous communities and lots of work on Indigenous curriculum and research, and recruitment of Indigenous students, faculty and staff.

Integration and Alignment with the Health System – The Saskatchewan Health Authority was launched on December 4 and the CoM has been an integral partner. My own role on the SHA board will consume some of my time and I am sure will be exciting and rewarding. The authority has committed to both physician leadership and the academic mandate, and our provincial heads (formerly unified department heads) will be critically important as the authority works toward its provincial goals of Better Health, Better Care, Better Value and Better Teams.

Faculty Engagement – Much progress has been made with our move to One Faculty. One of the very positive comments by our accreditation visiting team was about our “engaged and enthusiastic faculty.” Credit goes to many, and Dr. Keith Ogle has provided us great leadership as vice-dean faculty engagement. Unfortunately for us, his new home in Golden, BC, and retirement beckon, so key for us this year will be the recruitment of a new vice-dean faculty engagement. Talk to me!

Social Accountability and Community Engagement – We continue to do great work in this area, and as social accountability has long been a strength at the CoM, this year we will be submitting an application for an ASPIRE award. The ASPIRE program recognizes international excellence in education in a medical, dental or veterinary school.

Education – A big promise to our learners throughout accreditation is that it was not a one-time event. We are committed to continuously improving the quality of our education programs and the student experience. Key topics on my mind this year are student wellness, Competency-Based Medical Education in PGME, growth in our use of medical simulation for education, and faculty development.

Distributed Medical Education – Exciting work is already well underway for the establishment of longitudinal integrated clerkship opportunities in our UGME program. With one provincial health authority in the SHA, we have an opportunity to standardize resources and support for DME throughout the province.

Enablers: We identified three key categories of enablers: people; partnerships and relationships; and organizational capacity. Related specifically to this priority, in 2018 I will be focusing on three components:

  • Strategic Plan – As noted above our plan needs much more detail if it is to effectively guide us over the next five years, and we must also define how it aligns with the plan, led by our provost, that the university is developing.
  • Diversity – Accreditation highlighted for us that while we have had some success in this area, there is lots of work to do to enhance diversity among our leadership, faculty and staff. I look forward this year to the activities of our Diversity and Inclusion Working Group.
  • Financial Stability – I must admit that while the highlight of the holidays for me was family, there is little doubt that second place went to seeing oil top $60 per barrel. I had no idea as dean I would be following the price of oil, potash and uranium, as well as the crop report. So be it!

As there may still be confusion about the current financial situation at the CoM, I want to ensure all understand three key messages. First, there is no new windfall of resources available to the CoM—the $20 million in funding returned to the CoM budget in September was excellent news, but there was no additional funding beyond that. Second, while we have made considerable investment over the last three-and-a-half years (and thus our cost base has risen), our expenditures have been exactly what we have told our funders both in our annual budgeting process and the five-year budget projections we have presented to government three times now: in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Finally, while we are all too aware of the fiscal challenges faced by our university and our government, I must emphasize the incredible support we have had from our university leaders and colleagues in government in our work to secure the necessary resources to continue our transformation and be the best medical school we can be.

So, it’s important that you know there will again be a challenging budget process and some tough choices to be made this year. I am told that is what Saskatchewan people have done forever, but I also focus a little bit on the rising price of oil!

On a personal level, 2018 for me will be about family (I got to put together a train set for my grandson Max at Christmas), books (I highly recommend Clearing the Plains by James Daschuk), photography (but no new lens purchase this year) and, of course, running (I signed up for the Boston Marathon again and I have a new training program!).

Again, happy New Year to all—and it would be wonderful in 2018 if more of you took me up on my offer to hear your feedback.

Have a wonderful holiday

As we start to wind down for the holiday season, I want to wish everyone at the CoM and our partners in education and healthcare all the very best!

It has been a great year for our college. We came together as a team to deliver a solid, well-organized accreditation visit at the end of October. The documentation and visit planning required to achieve this took up significant time and energy, and was of course a very big focus of our year. While we await the outcome of the visit, we can take satisfaction in achieving this major hurdle together, as we head into what I hope for each of you will be a peaceful and relaxing time as 2017 draws to a close.

Beyond accreditation, we completed our high-level five-year strategic plan. We’ve made important strides in the biomedical departments restructuring work, and the amalgamation of the current five departments to two departments was approved recently by our faculty council. In 2017, we hired the Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health and the Saskatchewan Chair in Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Research, and in these roles respectively, Drs. Alexandra King and Michael Levin have begun their important work for our province and the world. We continued to support our researchers with our internal funding programs and celebrated their successes garnering external grants. We saw our One Faculty model achieve success with significant, measurable increases in medical faculty engagement in the mission of the college. The Saskatchewan Health Authority launched earlier this month, and our college played and will continue to play an important role in supporting and participating in this transformation. This just touches on some of the highlights of 2017.

Most importantly, thank you for your work for our college over the past year! I look forward to working with you in 2018, as we continue together to improve the health and well-being of the people of Saskatchewan and the world.

For now, however, let us rest, rejuvenate and enjoy this special time of year.

Thank You Team!!!

Accreditation 2017 has come and gone!

As everyone surely knows we had a seven member undergraduate medical education (UGME) accreditation team here from Sunday evening to Wednesday afternoon. They reviewed our UGME program on behalf of the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS). Our reviewers were collegial, collaborative, gracious and diligent and we thank them sincerely in helping us with our ongoing commitment to continuous quality improvement of our UGME program, and service to our students. Outcomes must wait until early next summer when we will receive a report from CACMS and LCME (our American partner).

But the important thing is that we had an enormous successful visit delivered by an incredible team. I can’t emphasize enough the pride I have in our students, faculty and staff for the superbly professional way they organized and delivered the visit. I saw enthusiasm, pride, exceptional teamwork and mutual support. I saw incredible diligence in preparation. I saw incredible commitment to our students. Everyone spoke the language of continuous quality improvement. And did I mention teamwork? Teamwork across campuses, across organizational units, amongst students, faculty, staff, and CoM leaders. The teamwork was a joy to watch and a very positive indicator for our future as we are becoming a “high-performing team”.

Furthermore, the accreditors commented on the enthusiasm and commitment of our faculty and students, and the exceptional organization of the visit.

I hesitate to single people out because everyone that participated did a wonderful job but must mention a few for their exceptional work and leadership: Darla Schiebelbein, our event coordinator, led all of the planning and delivery of meeting logistics and her work was flawless (right down to finding a Coffee Crisp for one fussy member of the CoM team). Marianne Bell stepped up in December as the incredible team player she is and did an exceptional job as our accreditation specialist – incredibly organized and totally unflappable, she did a great job. Sinead McGartland, our director of projects and planning, took on the critical role of visit preparation and all of the participants know what an excellent job was done (although some thought they were over-prepared  ). Dr. Athena McConnell with her subtle humour, incredible work ethic and attention to detail was an inspiring leader to the entire accreditation team. And finally the entire UGME team, including staff, Assistant Deans, Admissions, Students Affairs, faculty curricular leads, and committee members were all very ably led by our Associate Dean UGME, Dr Pat Blakley. Pat and her team have done wonderful work in delivering a new innovative curriculum and supporting our students.

As I said there are so many others – health system leaders were exceptional in their support, residents shone through as the enthusiastic teachers they are, IT services were flawless, Dean’s Office staff pitched in when needed, the custodian on the first floor went above and beyond the call of duty to present the accreditors’ space perfectly, etc. It all could not have been done better.

We showed we have a great UGME program and support our students, which is what accreditation is all about. But for the future what really is significant to me is how we came together as a College and a team to get the job done.

I go off to AAMC of faculty development and meetings in Boston for a few days with great pride in all of you and our UGME program and students.

On behalf of the CoM and the U of S congratulations and thanks to all of you. You are awesome!!