When I started out as Dean, on July 6, 2010, it was clear to me, that of the many challenges a new Dean and Director of the School of Medicine has to deal with, one stood out as the most critical. The issue was the accreditation of our Undergraduate Medical Education Program. In 2009, the accreditation team, which is a joint process between the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (a U.S.-based organization) had visited Queen’s and was not perfectly happy. They identified many areas with which they were less than satisfied, and indeed indicated the need to return quickly to gauge our progress on these issues. They did so last week.
In the last few years this situation was taken very seriously and sleeves were rolled up and work began. More than rolled up sleeves, I would say we had a flat-out effort. We hired additional staff, we appointed additional faculty to key educational positions, and we engaged external consultants to assist the school and do reviews.
A massive amount of work was done! I would characterize most of this as a fundamental rebuilding process. First and foremost, when faced with fractures in the curriculum, we did not apply a temporary cast…no, the undergraduate team performed major surgery, ostensibly a complete operation to expose the fractures surgically, and fix them permanently through the application of durable measures; like the titanium plates and steel screws used in an internal fixation.
We have not only rebuilt our curriculum, we have restructured and fortified the administrative support. We have bolstered the team with additional professional educators. We appointed faculty and staff to focus on continuous quality improvement processes. We have supported our teachers, investing in a system that accounts for the teaching they do, both professionally, and financially. We have rebuilt the relationship between the three schools in the Faculty, ostensibly pushing for a more integrated structure and more interprofessional content. And finally, through the efforts of Dean Walker, we have rebuilt a magnificent new school of medicine building.
Of course, this massive effort was the product of many; likely over a hundred individuals. This team of students, faculty and staff were exceptional. There is always a risk of mentioning many of the key people who were so incredible; so I won’t do that, in fear of missing someone, or alternatively populating this blog with a hundred names. But I am sure no one will object to me mentioning one special person, our undergraduate medical education leader, Tony Sanfilippo, who has given his heart and soul to this process. We would all agree, without Tony, we would not have received the words we did from the accreditors.
The process of accreditation is somewhat complicated, but ostensibly, the review team that visited Queen’s last week will deliver a report to both the American and Canadian committees, and then they will make a single decision and report back to us. But they did give us an Exit Conference Statement before leaving Kingston. Tony, Lewis Tomalty, John Drover, Principal Woolf and I received the report. We were extraordinarily pleased with the statement. More than pleased, we believe this statement recognized the involvement of our students in their education. It recognized the transformative changes to our curriculum. It recognized the enormous successes we have had in engaging our faculty in our educational mission. It acknowledged the dedication and effectiveness of our staff. We were all smiles! Of course, we have to wait until this fall for the final report, which is a normal part of the process; but I have no doubt that we are well poised for some great news.
Tony’s team is a great team. A really great team!
If you want to contribute your views on our medical school, please comment; or better yet…drop by either the Macklem House or the Abramsky House, Tony and my doors are always open.