July 19, 2023
On August 14, 2016, I began my role as the Dean of Medicine at Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine. It has been an honour and privilege to serve as the sixth dean of medicine and first woman dean of the faculty of medicine.
As I complete my role on August 14, 2023, I would like to highlight some of the changes, advancements and accomplishments in the Faculty of Medicine that have taken place over the past seven years.
Our strategic plan, Destination Excellence: 2018-2023 launched in January 2018. It is our strategic roadmap that acknowledges the challenges, opportunities and realities of our environment while concentrating on what matters most --- achieving excellence in education, research and engagement with communities with whom we serve and partner.
As part of Destination Excellence, we developed the faculty’s vision for the future and crafted our strategic directions and goals: Through excellence, we will integrate education, research and social accountability to advance the health of the people and communities we serve.
We established short and long-term priorities and I am proud to say that we have accomplished a significant number of things despite some of the challenges we faced such as Snowmaggedon, a cyberattack in the health system, and the CoVID-19 pandemic to name just a few.
In my role as Dean of Medicine and co-chair of the Destination Excellence Implementation Steering Team (DEIST), some highlights include:
- Created several project teams to implement specific aspects of the strategic plan. These included mentorship, wellness, social accountability, research, balanced scorecard, culture of excellence, internationalization, and equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism.
- Sponsored annual strategic planning update days to bring Faculty of Medicine faculty, students and staff together to hear about progress on the implementation of the strategic plan and to solicit input for next steps.
- Had individual units and offices develop unit-level strategic plans.
This is a significant achievement given that approximately 80% of strategic plans never get implemented.
The Faculty of Medicine has undergone various organizational changes to help improve efficiencies and meet educational and research needs.
- Created a Chief Operating Officer position to oversee the operations of the faculty of medicine.
- Created a Manager of Biomedical Sciences position to oversee the Medical Laboratories, anatomy suite, the Bounce Laboratory, and more recently the Clinical Skills and Learning Center.
- Created a Clinical Manager position which will start imminently to oversee the administrative team in the clinical disciplines.
- Created a Vice Dean, Research and Graduate studies position.
- Created an Assistant Dean, Clinical Research position and an Associate Dean, Graduate Studies position.
- Created a Vice Dean, Education and Faculty Affairs positions.
- Created an Assistant Dean, Faculty Wellness, Equity and Professionalism.
- Created an Office of Social Accountability and an Assistant Dean, Social Accountability position and faculty lead positions for Indigenous health and global health were created in addition to the existing Indigenous health and global health coordinators
- Transformation to Learner Well-being and Success from the Office of Student Affairs.
- Created Centres for Bioethics as well as Neuroscience and Mental Health.
- Merged Clinical Epidemiology into the Division of Community Health and Humanities.
- Reconceptualized the role and placement of Genetics within the Faculty of Medicine such that PhD faculty are now in the Division of Biomedical Sciences and clinical faculty are in the Discipline of Pediatrics.
- Expanded the postgraduate medical education (PGME) office.
- Merged the Medical Education Scholarship Centre (MESC) into the Office of Professional Development (OPD) to create the Office of Professional and Educational Development (OPED).
- Altered the reporting structure for the Centre for Collaborative Health Professional Education (CCHPE) to report to OPED.
- Re-organized the Dean’s Office and all staff report to the Chief Operating Officer.
- Creation of a development associate staff position
- Moved to position based and zero based budgeting and developed a robust financial monitoring system.
- Completed a successful fundraising campaign and have modified our approaches to development.
- Created a Development Council to work with alumni and friends of the Faculty of Medicine to raise the profile of the Faculty of Medicine and engage our friends in the vision and mission of the faculty.
As the only medical school in Newfoundland and Labrador, we have a special obligation to provide the best medical education and research experiences for our learners.
- Both undergraduate and postgraduate medical education successfully introduced competence-by-design.
- In 2021 the undergraduate medical education program received a full eight-year accreditation for the first time in 38 years.
- Maintained excellent performance (95.5%+) in the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) for learners matching to their first choice.
- Introduced Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships (LIC) at two sites in New Brunswick.
- PGME is well positioned for the next accreditation cycle in 2024 with both Medicine and Pediatrics having moved from notice of intent to withdraw to full accreditation status.
- Established a clinical postdoctoral laboratory program.
- The Division of BioMedical Sciences has successfully completed its academic unit planning (AUP) and the Division of Community Health and Humanities is currently working on documentation for their AUP submission.
- The Office of Professional and Educational Development (OPED) received full CACME accreditation and has expanded its offerings, including the Practice Ready Assessment (PRA) program and the addition of an advanced physician leadership training program.
In November 2017, there were concerns raised about the Faculty of Medicine’s learning environment. These concerns included allegations of bullying, intimidation, harassment and sexual harassment. As a result of the issues, authorization for a unit assessment was requested from the president of Memorial University, which was granted. As such, the following activities have been implemented.
- Hired an independent consultant to investigate claims made regarding allegations of intimidation, bullying and harassment at the Faculty of Medicine.
- Put mechanisms in place to address all 39 recommendations from the report titled: Issues Related to Intimidation, Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Harassment in the Faculty of Medicine.
- Some of the results included better policies and procedures to address mistreatment and sexual harassment; development of online modules for clinical faculty and learners as well as PhD faculty and graduate learners; reorganization of the Learner, Well Being and Success office to address undergraduate and postgraduate learners; and a biannual mistreatment survey.
Research and Graduate Studies
Ground-breaking research continues to happen at Memorial University. Supporting our graduate students who are our future medical scientists has been an important priority. We have also focused on better understanding the research happening right here in the province and the world-wide impact new discoveries can have to help create healthier communities.
- Significant efforts were made to engage graduate students and include them in the operational life of the Faculty of Medicine through offering spots to participate on project teams, more recognition and inclusion in awards and graduation events, and organizing Monte Carlo with undergraduate medical education students.
- Established new collaborative clinical and non-clinical research grants and implemented bridge funding.
- Created a Dean of Medicine Open-Access Publication Fund to increase visibility and breadth of knowledge in dissemination stemming from research and scholarly activities.
- The faculty of Medicine is the only faculty at Memorial in which grants are received from each of the Tri-Agencies ie the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
- Due to the work of the research project team’s work under the strategic plan, there is a better understanding of our research strengths and barriers to clinical faculty who want to be more active researchers. Approaches to reduce the barriers to research are being implemented.
- Established the Human Neuroscience Research Centre
- Further commitment to support the Medical Research Fund to maximize the number of awards offered each year.
Our Faculty of Medicine has been recognized for its excellence in rural medical education and training. We understand the importance of experiential learning that is integrated into our communities.
- Won the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC) Keith Award 10 times, five of which were under the current Dean. This award is given to the medical program with the highest percentage of physicians practicing in rural and underserved areas ten years after graduation from family medicine residency programs.
- Won the SRPC medical education award five times, four of which were under the current Dean. This award goes to the school with the highest percentage of medical graduates pursuing rural training.
- Other education awards have been given to faculty and learners such as the annual Canadian Association for Medical Education Awards and the Association of Faculties of Medicine Canada John Ruedy Award for Medical Education Innovation.
- Expanded the Dean’s Excellence Awards to include junior and senior awards for Excellence in Teaching and a new Community Member Health Champion Award.
- Numerous other prestigious awards such as the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Fellows, the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame student awards, Kidney Foundation Medal for Research Excellence, Research Canada Leadership Award, Canadian College of Family Physicians Reg L. Perkin Award.
- Several faculty have received significant awards like the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Order of Canada.
We have leveraged opportunities to work with many groups, levels of government and private industry to advance medical education and research here at Memorial. A few examples include:
- Initiated workshops in 2020 to explore how to enhance and advance human genetics and genomics collaboration to create a more cohesive framework. As a result of the workshops, a province-wide human genetics and genomics governance structure has been put in place with a steering committee being co-sponsored by the Faculty of Medicine, NL Health Services and the Department of Health and Community Services. Reporting up to the steering committee are several working groups focused on data governance, increasing clinical capacity, and others.
- Initiated workshops in 2020 to explore ways to enhance recruitment and retention of physicians to rural and remote areas of the province. The workshops resulted in a report with 10 recommendations that are being implemented by a multi-sectoral team including the Faculty of Medicine, the Department of Health and Community Services and Municipalities NL.
- Entered into an agreement with the University of Prince Edward Island to develop a medical school in Prince Edward Island. Initially the program will be offered under Memorial’s accreditation but will be expanded to a fully joint program.
- Working with the Town of Grand Falls Windsor to develop a simulation program for all levels of learners
None of the above accomplishments could have happened without the expertise, commitment and passion of the learners, staff, faculty, alumni and friends of the Faculty of Medicine. I am extremely grateful for everyone in the faculty of medicine for believing in the vision and mission of Destination Excellence. Thank you again for your continued support of the Faculty of Medicine. It has been a pleasure to be your Dean of Medicine and I look forward to keeping in touch.