Last week’s convocation ceremonies provided opportunities to not only pay tribute to the 2013 class, but also reflect on the progress of our school and curriculum. I was congratulated several times for the changes that have taken place, and the success of our graduating class. In truth, those changes have been made possible only by the efforts of many faculty and support staff, who are the real heroes of any success we’ve achieved. I thought it appropriate to devote an article to those remarkable people. In doing so I tread cautiously, always wary of omitting someone, but not willing to pass up the opportunity to recognize the deserving. So, here goes:
Ted Ashbury. Several years ago, he (perhaps foolishly) Ted agreed to become a curricular advisor. From that, he has become the “heart and soul” of Professionalism within our curriculum and within our medical school. He began by chairing a working group that examined and developed a competency framework, the work of which served as a model for all the professional competencies. He has continued to teach and advocate for professionalism, serving on our Curriculum Committee since it’s inception. He does not speak often, but is always thoughtful and his usually incisive commentary often brings the group back to fundamentals and keeps our collective eye on what’s important. I’ve come to count on his advice. Ted’s trying to retire and I guess we’re going to have to let him do that at some point, but we don’t have to be happy about it.
Henry Averns has, for the past 5 years directed our Clinical Skills program. A difficult portfolio at the best of times, Henry had to manage through the departure of a number of faculty leads, transition from a five to four term format, introduction of new teaching requirements, and transition to a new Clinical Education Centre. Henry managed all this with characteristic aplomb, the final result a program that continues to be highly regarded by our students and accreditors, and improved for his contributions. More recently, he has taken on chairmanship of our OSCE committee, a role that continues to bring both learning and administrative challenges, but he is engaging with his usual enthusiasm and characteristic pragmatism.
Paul Belliveau has been a consistent liaison and representative of Surgery within our curriculum, both at the pre-clerkship and clerkship levels. He has also willingly taken on a number of key roles, including initially chairing our Student Assessment Committee and taking on leadership of our Student Awards Committee as it undergoes necessary reforms.
Jennifer Carpenter has, for many years, provided counseling for students experiencing a variety of personal and health problems. In doing so, she has made herself continuously available to them and, since most of what she does is held in confidence, she largely carries out this role without attention or fanfare. She has also led the development of our Advocacy curriculum and promoted the development of Learner Wellness initiatives. She is unfailingly supportive of our students, and I have come to rely on and trust her advice on many student related issues.
Sue Chamberlain has been instrumental in developing our curriculum and clerkship in Obstetrics and Gynecology, shaping both into a very well regarded components of our curriculum, reflected by high levels of success of our students in Medical Council of Canada examinations and disproportionate interest in Ob-Gyn careers among our students. For these past 4 years, she took on Chairmanship of our Student Assessment Committee. This was a mammoth task, requiring a combination of policy development, faculty support and oversight of the curricular courses. Her success in developing effective assessment methodologies for our courses was absolutely essential and key to our accreditation success.
Lindsay Davidson is a dedicated and successful career educator who has also been part of our curricular transition from the start. During her time as Clerkship Director she guided the clerkship through its transition to a 2 year model. She has also taken on the roles of MSK Course Director for many years and, more recently, Year 2 Director. Her overriding contributions, however, relate to her willingness to fearlessly engage novel educational models, combined with technological expertise rare in medical faculty. She has been an unapologetic champion of small group learning techniques, leading the way and assisting many faculty in making that transition. She has become a growing presence within the university and national education communities.
As the Hannah Chair for the History of Medicine, Jackie Duffin has provided our students insights into the history of our profession and done so in a highly engaging manner, mixing award winning lectureship with individual research and highly regarded field trips which she personally organizes and supervises. Her contributions, however, go far beyond that role. She engages the students on a personal level with enthusiasm and warmth, and is held in high regard by all. Her publications and global work bring much credit to our school.
Renee Fitzpatrick has provided steadfast and innovative leadership for all aspects of our Psychiatry curriculum. She has developed novel approaches to teaching complex psychiatric presentations through the use of standardized patients, as well as developing individualized preparation opportunities for students undertaking the Integrated Community Clerkship. She has become the champion of Psychiatry within the UG curriculum, and her efforts have provided our students with a much more realistic and attractive impression of that career track. As she moves on to other challenges, she leaves strong pre-clerkship and Clerkship programs for colleagues to follow.
Michelle Gibson has skillfully and efficiently guided Year 1 of our curriculum for several years, been an important member of our Curriculum Committee (taking over responsibilities as Chair for these past 2 years), all while completing her Master’s degree in Medical Education and carrying out her practice in Geriatric Medicine. During that time, she managed to have a baby, and young Conor has become an honorary member of Curriculum Committee, amassing an impressive attendance record.
Cherie Jones-Hiscock has provided leadership and oversight for two key competencies within our curriculum, those related to the Collaborator and Communicator roles. In doing so, she has developed curricular content and novel, creative methods to provide that content. These roles have required that uncommon combination of educational creativity and administrative skill. She has brought these skills to her roles with our Professional Foundations and Curriculum Committees.
Hugh MacDonald has guided our Admissions Committee through a transition to a much more sophisticated and, in my view, effective process based on an understanding of key applicant attributes and incorporating mini-medical interviews. The committee’s mandate has also expanded to involve admission of students to our MD-PhD and QuARMS programs, each requiring creative thinking and novel processes. Hugh has guided these processes with a steady hand and good judgment, all the time filling other key clinical and administrative roles in our school.
Sue MacDonald, as our first Academic Advisor, has taken on this new role with energy and commitment. She provides personal counseling with students experiencing academic challenges, effectively identifying opportunities for improvement and complementing the efforts of other counselors. Many students have benefitted from her counseling and sound, practical advice. She has also been very active in the delivery of our Professionalism/Ethics curriculum, and a strong contributor to our Student Progress and Promotions Committee.
Jennifer MacKenzie has, together with Theresa Suart, developed a de novo pre-medical curriculum for our QuARMS program which is highly creative, delivering competency based learning in a variety of creative teaching formats. This program, and Jennifer’s continued oversight, will be key to the success of this exciting new initiative.
Sue Moffatt has been making major contributions to our curriculum for more years than she would like me to mention. Most recently, her contributions to our curricular renewal process, guidance of the Cardio-Respiratory course through transition, and wholesale development of the three Clerkship Curriculum courses have been remarkable even for someone with her track record. Her recent selection by our graduating students to receive the Connell Award (given to the faculty member deemed to have made the greatest contributions to their medical education) speaks clearly to her dedication and commitment to our students. It’s always clear to me and others that Sue’s perspectives and opinions on various issues, although often controversial, are always motivated by a genuine concern for the interests of our students.
Heather Murray has transformed the teaching and expression of Scholarship within our curriculum. She has done so by developing and managing the CARL (Critical Appraisal, Research and Learning) course, now in it’s third year, and building on Albert Clarke’s longtime contributions to transform our Critical Enquiry course. She is transforming those components of our curriulum into a very active and highly relevant learning experience for our students. The Student Research Showcase, which she developed and offered for the first time last fall, promises to become a regular highlight of the academic year.
Peter O’Neill tirelessly guides our students through their career planning and CARMS application processes. He also, quietly and without fanfare, provides personal guidance and advocacy for those few who have difficulty with the postgraduate match process. In his spare time, he has developed a program in Spirituality, which has been well received by both students and other medical schools.
Conrad Reifel and Steve Pang have provided a Normal Human Structure course that is, in the view of many, among the best programs in the country. They have also been open to change and cooperation with clinical course directors that continues to promote integration throughout our curriculum.
Mike Sylvester has developed and operated a Family Medicine course in first semester that not only introduces our students to that specialty, but provides their first exposure to clinical presentations and diagnostic reasoning. He has represented and promoted the integration of Generalism within our curriculum tirelessly through his participation on the Curriculum Committee.
David Taylor and Cathy Lowe have very effectively reformed our Internal Medicine Clerkship rotations, converting what were weaknesses to strengths within the clerkship. In doing so, they have introduced innovative teaching and assessment methodologies.
Lewis Tomalty, during his term as Senior Associate Dean, was a strong supporter of curricular change and continuing source of advice, guidance and support. Since then, he has assumed responsibility for our Mechanisms of Disease course and is in the process of reforming that curriculum.
Richard VanWylick seems to be everywhere. He has, over the past few years, directed the development and implementation of our Pediatrics pre-clerkship curriculum, directed the Pediatric Clerkship, directed our Integrated Community Clerkship Program and, just for good measure, Chaired the Progress and Promotions Committee, a role that requires the knowledge of a litigator, diplomacy of a career diplomat and patience of Job. I’m not really sure how he’s managed all this, but I’m smart enough not to ask. He’s one of those folks who just does everything well, and can be relied upon with difficult jobs. In addition, I know he is a source of advice and counsel to many of our junior faculty.
Chris Ward has quietly, effectively, deliberately reformed our teaching in basic science through his leadership of the Normal Human Function course, and dedicated participation in our Curriculum Committee. He has also found ways to interact effectively with clinical course directors and thereby promote integration of basic and clinical science in our curriculum.
Ruth Wilson has generously taken on the considerable challenge of chairing our Professional Foundations Committee. Her steady leadership has guided and promoted the development and integration of those essential components of our curriculum.
Andrea Winthrop, in a short period of time back at Queen’s, has taken on and successfully engaged a number of challenging and critical portfolios, including Clerkship Director and Chair of the Course and Faculty Review Committee. She has also been the person most responsible for developing and managing our successful exchange program with the University of Queensland. In all these roles, Andrea brings incredible energy, commitment and an attention to detail that is both apparent and rather astounding to everyone who works with her. Her dedication to the welfare of our students is obvious to all.
Brent Wolfram has quietly and effectively assumed responsibility for the Family Medicine clerkship, as well as providing valuable contributions to our Course and Faculty Review and Curriculum committees.
In addition, many faculty have provided leadership as Course Directors:
Michael Adams who has energetically revised the curriculum and teaching of Fundamentals of Therapeutics, receiving important recognitions for his teaching from the students and university in the process.
Stephanie Baxter who developed our Ophthalmology curriculum, recently transferring that role to Jim Farmer
Cheryl Cline has been instrumental in developing and leading the Professional Foundations course content.
Basia Farnell has taken on leadership of our Term 2 Clinical Skills course.
Melissa Fleming leads the challenging Perioperative Medicine rotation in our Clerkship, which integrates experiences in Anaesthesia, Emergency Medicine and Surgical Subspecialties.
Keith Gregoire who has recently taken on responsibility for the Pediatrics Clerkship, building on the program developed by Richard VanWylick and Maxine Clarke.
Russell Hollins has directed and supervised Elective rotations for many years, an administratively and educationally challenging role very important to our students as they consolidate their career directions.
Robyn Houlden and David Holland have developed a very effective Renal-Endocrine curriculum in second year.
Paula James and her colleagues have developed and implemented a course in Blood and Coagulation that is consistently very highly regarded by our students.
Paul Malik coordinates and teaches many sessions of the Cardiovascular component of our Cario-Resp course.
Romy Nitsch has expanded and refined the teaching within our Reproduction and Genito-urinary course.
Chris Parker and Armita Rahmani have worked diligently with Sue Moffatt to develop and deliver the first interation of Clerkship Curriculum Courses, which was very highly rated by out students.
Lindsey Patterson directs the development and delivery of Technical Skills within our curriculum.
Stuart Reid directs our Neuroscience course which, under his leadership, has undergone considerable revision in both content and teaching methods which have resulted in a much more effective and well reviewed curriculum.
Richard Thomas directs the Obstetrics and Gynecology rotation within our Clerkship, traditionally one of our most highly rated rotations, and a discipline where our students have excelled in their Medical Council of Canada examinations.
Shayna Watson has been a very effective liaison with the Oncology group, directing the integration of that content within our “GOP” course.
I also wish to make special mention of two Educators who have been essential components of our school and our transformation process:
Sheila Pinchin has been central to our curricular reform since the outset. She now leads a highly effective educational support team (Theresa Suart, Eleni Katsoulis, Alice Rush-Rhodes, Catherine Isaacs) and remains a key member of our leadership team, providing sound and practical advice, while maintaining a critical link to our students that allows us to understand and respond to issues and concerns.
Elaine VanMelle was an original member of our Curricular Review group and, in those formative days, provided sound guidance and insights as to relevant educational theory that allowed us to ensure our changes were solidly grounded. Her work as the original chair of our Teaching and Learning Committee led to policies and practices that were instrumental in our accreditation success and continue to guide the curriculum.
Finally, our Undergraduate support staff, under the capable leadership of Jacqueline Schutt, provide highly effective and much appreciated support to our students throughout their years with us. In recent Canadian Graduation Surveys, the students have rated our support services well above national averages.
The origin of the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” is obscure, but appears to derive from an African proverb. Whatever the origin, it is certainly well applied to the tremendous effort that has gone into our curricular evolution here at Queen’s.
What motivates all these people? Certainly not simply the money or prestige, both of which are entirely inadequate to their contributions. In all cases, the primary motivation is a remarkable dedication to our school, our students, and the very best interests of our profession. They deserve our admiration and our gratitude.
Anthony J. Sanfilippo, MD, FRCP(C)
Undergraduate Medical Education