Queen’s student wins 2015 Sandra Banner Award for Leadership

Queen’s Class of 2015 student Eve Purdy received the CaRMS Sandra Banner Award for Student Leadership at the CaRMS forum held in conjunction with the Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME) in Vancouver on April 26.

Richard Reznick, Dean of the Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences, presented the award on behalf of the award selection committee.

“Eve has always challenged herself to be a leader and is never afraid to ask questions and really to push the limits,” Reznick said. “She has a passion for evidence-based medicine and has demonstrated a strong ambition to be a leader in this field.”

“In just the last two years, Eve has made notable contributions to medical education, particularly in advancing and promoting the role of social media in medical education,” he said. “She’s also served as a mentor and an educator for our younger students. She has a stellar, unbelievable record of volunteerism and has won numerous academic and community awards.”

Reznick noted: “Her unique combination of energy, dedication and leadership stand out as an example we can all admire.”

“I’m also absolutely thrilled that Eve’s chosen to become a resident at Queen’s next year, so we have the great honour of having her for the next five years at Queen’s,” he added. “I have no doubt that this award will contribute to Eve’s continued development in medical education.”

“I am completely overwhelmed to be accepting this award in an audience that is chock full of people I admire greatly,” Purdy said.

Citing the Queen’s School of Medicine motto which translates as “a doctor works with her hands and her heart”, Purdy observed that “during my time at Queen’s, I’ve also realized that great educators and great leaders do work exactly in the same way.”

“Queen’s is just full of people who are going to support students and who are willing to build us up to become the best that we can,” she said. “I don’t want to start naming names, because there are way too many people at the Queen’s School of Medicine who have supported me and all of my classmates on our journey. And I’m thrilled to be there for another five years.” Purdy will be an emergency medicine resident as of July 1.

Purdy also thanked her mentors from the online world of medical education. “There’s a completely inspiring group of educators who are engaging online. Not only have they helped me get through medical school by producing free content that I found very accessible and useful for learning clinical material, but they’re engaging with each other in a way that is collaborative, and is in itself a form of leadership.” She encouraged others to join this online discussion by getting a Twitter account and finding people who have like-interests. “It’s changes my world and my path and my journey,” she said.

“I’m very appreciative of this award and will use it to its full potential,” she said.

The purpose of these annual awards, established in 2013 by the CaRMS board of directors, is to encourage the development of future leaders in medicine, through public recognition and financial support of one undergraduate and one postgraduate medical trainee who has demonstrated interest in/aptitude for leadership.

Each award is accompanied by up to $3,000 in funding to support learners’ proposed leadership activities, such as leadership conference feeds, formal leadership education at an accredited educational institution, or for a leadership elective.

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Call for information on community projects

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the UGME Service Learning Panel is interested in compiling an inventory of student volunteer initiatives which may fit the definition of service-learning.

The call was sent to all students through the class presidents’ weekly email. Students are encouraged to send information about their current initiatives, even if these may not 100 percent fit the definition of service-learning.

Deadline for submitting information for this inventory call is May 15. Submissions are to be sent to the Service Learning Advisory Panel via Brian Rutz brutz@queensu.ca

Full details on this call are included below:

UGME Service Learning Advisory Panel

Call for Established Community Actions


Recognizing value of Citizenship in the MD program we, here at Queen’s Medicine, “believe that our students should be active contributors and participants in the leadership of their communities, society and professional organizations” and wish to encourage, facilitate, and support such endeavours.

As such, the Undergraduate Medical Education Service Learning Advisory Panel would like to offer recognition and support students within the Faculty of Medicine who are currently engaged in service learning.

What is Service Learning?

Service Learning extends volunteer service to include deliberate preparation (including where feasible consulting stakeholders), the service, and formal reflection on learning. For this call, Service Learning may include development of a new project or may be participation in existing volunteer opportunities that meet a previously identified community concern.

Current Focus

For this call, the Service Learning Advisory Panel is seeking to identify, recognize, and support students and student groups currently engaged in service learning and request their input and assistance in formalizing and incorporating service learning as a permanent program within Undergraduate Medicine. A Service Learning Fund has been established for this purpose. (A second call will be issued for new projects).

2015 UGME Service Learning Panel Call for Community Actions

If you are currently engaged in the community (individually or as a group) in a manner that meets all or some of the definition of service learning, as described above, we want to hear from you!

Please provide us with a brief description of your current community engagement. We ask that you keep your description to a maximum of 300 words.

Deadline to reply to call: Friday May 15, 2015

Instructions for responding to call: email brutz@queensu.ca

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Making Change in the UGME Curriculum

Recently the UGME Curriculum Committee sent out a note to Course Directors asking for their advice on what curricular objectives and MCC presentations should be assigned to their courses. this is part of the curriculum review process and demonstrates the collaborative relationship between the Course Directors and the Curriculum Committee.

This request applies this time only for the pre-clerkship Course Directors, as clerkship Course Directors have engaged in a rigourous process this fall to ensure that everything is well represented in the clerkship rotations.

What can a Course Director change within his/her course?  What requires approval from Curriculum Committee?  What is the role of the Competency Lead?

goldfish change 4
The Course Director is empowered to make changes independently as long as:
•    They occur within the “footprint” of the course,
•    Do not change the assigned objectives or MCC presentations and
•    Adhere to the Teaching and Learning Policy and the Student Assessment Policy.

As well, Course Directors can bring larger changes forward to the Curriculum Committee, often representing requests from their teaching faculty, or in response to student requests or needs.  Faculty and students can also bring matters forward to the Curriculum Committee.  Year Directors can provide Course Directors with a broad view of the curriculum (For example, if they want to delete an objective and it’s not taught anywhere else.)

The Competency Lead’s “course” is the strand of learning and assessment for the respective Intrinsic Roles, over the four years of the curriculum.  Competency Leads communicate with Course Directors for desired change within existing structures, and propose to Curriculum Committee for larger changes.

What’s the role of The Curriculum Committee? goldfish change

  • Oversees large-scale changes
  • Ensures that change brings only positive growth and minimal negative impacts on any parts of the curriculum
  • Ensures that all the MCC’s and Curricular Objectives are assigned over the 4 years
  • Looks after balance in the curriculum
  • Consults widely and enacts larger changes such as:
  • Assigning objectives and MCC presentations to courses,
    (after collaborative feedback processes with others),
  • Determining the length of a school year,
  • Confirmation of course names and codes,
  • Review of the curriculum annually based on a variety of feedback.
  • Revising the Red Book (Competency Framework) where necessary
  • Receipt of reports from its sub-comittees (TLIC, SAC, CFRC) to ensure that those agents are working within their policies and parametres.
  • The Curriculum Committee also makes decisions on large-scale matters brought forward by faculty, students, Course Directors and Competency Leads.


Some examples of recent changes are:

goldfish change 2

Course Directors/Competency Leads Make These Types of Changes Curriculum Committee Makes These Types of Changes:
1.      Projects: Responding to student feedback and faculty evidence, projects such as Nutrition Project in Pediatrics, Evidence Search and Rescue in CARL, the Portfolio assignments in Professional Foundations 1 and Professional Integrations and the Literature Review of the Critical Enquiry course are revised. 1.      Revision of a Course: In 2013, the Curriculum Committee approved a major change in the way Clinical and Communication Skills 2 was conducted in Term 4. The change involved moving to a patient-based approach with a student to faculty ratio of 3:1, and flexible timetabling.
2.     Learning Event Types: Lectures are changed into SGLs (or sometimes in reverse) such as the cluster of neoplasia lectures in pathology in Mechanisms of Disease changing to an SGL. 2.     Expanding Time in a Course for a New Session: A proposal for a learning event on the care of LGBTQ patients in the Professional Foundations Course was brought before the Curriculum Committee and accepted.  The proposal required more time to be added to the course.
3.     New Learning Events: New learning events are added such as seminars in clerkship rotations or “Expanded CARL” sessions in clinical foundations courses to better align with objectives 3.     Additional Time and/or Re-labelling Existing Learning Events Across Years: A process has been initiated to add the topic of Ensuring Patient Safety is represented within the curriculum. This could require more time to be added to the footprints of a number of courses and each request for time is being considered separately.
4.     New Seminars:   In Clerkship, Course Directors added formal academic seminars to their courses in order to better accommodate learning of specific assigned 4.     Change in Timetable/Examination Schedule for a Term:   For this academic year, Curriculum Committee approved the proposal brought forward by the Year Director of Year 2 to change the examination schedule of the Circulation and Respiration course and the Renal and Endocrine course in Year 2.
5.     Revision or Development of Assessment Tools: Assessment tools are changed, such as the workplace-based assessment tools in clerkship Ob/Gyn into rubrics with behavioural anchors. 5.     Development of New Courses: Curriculum Committee approved the creation of three clerkship electives courses, from the one course, in order to ensure including satisfactory completion of the course requirements
6.     Changes due to Blueprints: Competency Leads have blueprinted their competencies and objectives and may determine that some learning events require change, as may assessments. Course Directors may change the percentage of learning events aligned to a specific assessment as per blueprint. 6.     Revision of Curriculum Framework: This academic year, the Red Book, our competency Framework, was revised with input from Competency Leads and the faculty to help the objectives reflect the reality of the classroom.


We undergo this process annually, as well as check on what changes the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) has made in the clinical presentations that serve as objectives aligned to the MCC Qualifying Examination.

Thanks for making changes to the curriculum that are helpful, meaningful, and relevant!
Do you have questions about change in our curriculum?  Drop a note here or write to sheila.pinchin@queensu.ca

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Towards higher ideals…Reflections on our current and our first accreditation experience

The first accreditation visit to the Queen’s School of Medicine occurred in October of 1909, and didn’t go particularly well.

flexnerThe reviewer was Abraham Flexner, a rather determined iconoclast and career educator who had been commissioned by the Carnegie Foundation to carry out a review of all North American medical schools. Flexner undertook his charge with a shrewd earnestness that his biographers would later describe as “determination bordering on espionage”. He was both relentless and scrupulous, leaving no stone unturned and taking nothing at face value. He wasn’t above, for example, sneaking back into a school at night after the formal visit had ended to bribe his way into laboratories or wards from which he’d been tactfully steered away during the official tour. Some of his reviews were truly scathing, and would certainly lead to lawsuits today. Of the 155 American and Canadian medical colleges in existence at the time, fully 95 closed within the 20 years following the publication of his report in 1911.

blog58-imageQueen’s, at that time, was one of 8 Canadian schools in existence. Three were in Ontario (Toronto and Western being the others), three in Quebec (McGill and Laval, which had campuses in Montreal and Quebec City), Winnipeg and Halifax Medical Colleges. All were “proprietary” or commercial schools, operated by the medical community who charged students fees for instruction without standards for admissions, qualification of faculty, curriculum, teaching, assessment or any of the issues we take for granted today.

1909In 1909, the population of Kingston was about 20,000. In the School of Medicine 38 faculty (including 16 Professors) were responsible for the teaching of 208 students drawn largely from Ontario. The five-year program was expected to graduate students able to “comply with the requirements of the province in which they expect to practice”. The total income to the school, consisting entirely of student fees, was $19,978.

Flexner’s review was characteristically precise, perceptive and honest. He felt laboratory and library facilities were “adequate”. His major criticisms related to the paucity of clinical experiences – “the opportunities for out patient work are slight”. He expanded:

meded“The future of Queen’s is at least doubtful. It could certainly maintain a two year school; for the Kingston General Hospital would afford pathological and clinical material amply sufficient up to that point. But the clinical years require much more than the town now supplies. Its location – halfway between Montreal and Toronto, on an inconvenient branch line – greatly aggravates the difficulties due to the smallness of the community”.

However, he concluded by describing the school as “a distinct effort towards higher ideals”, and compared it favourably to a number of American schools he’d encountered in similar circumstances, holding out hope with the following observations:

  • “liberal policy has largely overcome the disadvantages of location in a small town”
  • “the thoroughness and continuity with which the cases can be used to train the student in the technique of modern methods go far to offset defects due to limitations in their number and variety”

The leadership of the school at the time was not amused. Dean Cowell’s report to the Board following the publication of Flexner’s report went as follows:

“The report of the Carnegie Foundation relating to Medical Education, published last summer, contained some statements and criticisms which are unfavourable to our school. As these were manifestly based on inadequate knowledge of the actual conditions, they have not been taken very seriously by the Faculty.”
(from Medicine at Queen’s 1854-1920, A.A. Travill).

And that, as they say, was that.

Last week, 105 years after the publication of Flexner’s findings, a team of six visited Kingston and again undertook to review our school, this time utilizing a rather extensive set of standards developed by both Canadian and American accrediting agencies. Although the full report won’t be available for a couple of months, the panel provided a preliminary report that appeared to find little fault with our core educational program, but did contain some rather eerie echoes of Flexner’s observations over a century ago. They felt the caseload available for teaching in some disciplines, for example, is low and the efforts put in place to offset this may require “ongoing monitoring”. At a number of points during the many meetings that occurred over the four day visit, the panel seemed to probe our ability, as a small school, to provide what appeared, almost surprisingly, to be a strong education and learning experience to our students.

The reality is that Kingston and the southeastern Ontario region does have a small and more senior population, tightly bound by our neighbouring schools, much larger and more diverse population centres, and our national border. This is as true today as it was in Flexner’s era.

So how does it work? Why has Flexner’s prediction, honestly and pragmatically derived, not proven true? How is it that this “effort to higher ideals” has not only survived but, I would humbly suggest based on our recent review, flourished despite the geographic and epidemiologic challenges?

The answer to these questions was in evidence this past week when our Dean, Vice-Deans, Associate Deans, Department Heads (every one of them by the way), hospital partners, Program Directors, Course Directors, Competency Leads, Administrative staff and students, met in a series of meetings with the accreditation team. What was apparent to myself and to the review panel as each group came through, was the same spirit of determined commitment to medical education that has sustained our school through the generations since Mr. Flexner’s visit. Such commitment trumps issues of size and location, converts potential liabilities into advantages and results in development of a particular and enviable learning community where education is valued in not only theoretical but also highly practical ways, where students are vitally involved, where innovation is very much encouraged, where conventional thinking is challenged, where problems can be solved with a phone call today rather than a meeting next month, where effort required is no barrier to a good idea, where people know, respect and support each other and share in the common mission because, quite simply, they care. They care about providing the best possible medical education experience for our students, they care about our school, and they care about each other. It’s really that simple, and it’s no secret. An “effort toward higher ideals”, indeed.

Anthony J. Sanfilippo, MD, FRCP(C)
Associate Dean,
Undergraduate Medical Education


A.A. Travill. Medicine at Queen’s 1854-1920: A peculiarly happy relationship. The Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine. 1988.

Abraham Flexner. Medical Education in the United States and Canada. New York. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 1910.

Thomas Neville Bonner. Iconoclast: Abraham Flexner and a Life in Learning. Johns Hopkins University Press. 2002.

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Bollywood, gnomes and time travel, oh my!— 45th Annual Medical Variety Night promises an entertaining evening

Anyone wandering through the second floor of the Medical Building after hours some days this term could be forgiven for wondering if they’d accidentally ended up in a dance studio instead of a medical school.

What was actually happening was rehearsal for one of the dance numbers for this year’s Medical Variety Night (MVN). The show takes place Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) at Duncan McArthur Auditorium at 511 Union Street West and will be hosted by Emily Kerr (MEDS2017) and Alessia Gallipoli (MEDS2017).

I set out to find out more about what’s in store at the 45th edition of MVN, “House of CaRMS” by emailing this year’s co-directors: Beverly Guan (MEDS2017), Jimin Lee (MEDS2017), Jordan Sugarman (MEDS2018) and Nathan Terrana (MEDS2018).

This year’s theme of “House of CaRMS” was selected by popular vote, inspired by the American political drama series, “House of Cards.”

“The television series features scheming, power-hungry characters doing everything it takes to climb the ladder of success,” Guan wrote back on behalf of her co-directors. “Naturally, we saw some potentially humorous parallels with the CaRMS process.”

Co-Directors’ Top 5 Reasons to Check out MVN:

Discover hidden talents of medical students at Queen’s

Find out what we have been doing with our spare time

Support everyone who has put their time and effort into MVN

Donate to great charitable causes

Have a great time!

The co-directors and performers are keeping as much of the program under wraps as possible (we have to go see the show to find out more), but they tease that we can expect hilarious class skits and videos—“featuring gnomes, time travel, CanMEDS competencies, and more!”—the largest Bollywood act in MVN history, the first ever QMed Qrew hip hop number, a concert pianist, and many talented musicians and singers.

MVN2015 Poster - AG

It’s that kind of enthusiasm and talent that has helped ensure MVN is an enduring QMed tradition.

“Whether students want to have their moment in the spotlight, film promotional videos, manage the show behind the wings, or even just bake for our bake sale, there is a role for everyone in MVN,” Guan wrote.

MVN is a significant time investment to create two evenings of entertainment. Why do so many medical students pitch in? “Perhaps it is because it is during these grueling hours of preparation and rehearsal that we learn something important about ourselves, something we don’t learn sitting in class,” Guan wrote. “We learn how to deal with our frustrations and manage our insecurities. We learn about the joy of striving for perfection but also the beauty of imperfection. And, most importantly, we learn that succeeding together, as a team, is just as fulfilling — if not more so, than succeeding as an individual.”

Each year, MVN proceeds support charities selected by the students. This year, they’ve chosen the Class of 2017 project, “Reads for Paeds” and Almost Home, a local Kingston charity.

“Given that a significant portion of the class in involved in the Reads for Paeds project, we wanted to collaborate with them in raising funds to print storybooks, written and illustrated by our class, to explain common chronic illnesses affecting children,” Guan wrote. “We also wanted to select a local charity that supports families with children who are receiving medical treatment, and Almost home fit this criteria perfectly.”

More information on both Reads for Paeds and Almost Home is available on the MVN website: www.houseofcarms.com

In addition to funds raised through ticket sales, there are other fundraisers at the show, including a bake sale, raffle tickets and a silent auction for one large MVN banner featuring pictures of the performers. Donations are also being accepted (all donations greater than $50 receive a tax receipt).

Tickets are sold for $12 online and $15 at the door. Online ticket purchases and online donations can be made here.

In the meantime, check out the MVN promo video here and see the hosts explain why they volunteered here. And we’ll see you at the show!


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Faculty annoucements

Dr. Anthony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Medicine has announced three new teaching assignments.

David Taylor

David Taylor will be taking on the leadership of the Internal Medicine Training Program as of July 2015.  Dr. Taylor is an internist and a member of the division of General Internal Medicine. His clinical practice is focused on acute care general internal medicine, as well as refractory hypertension.

“I think this is great for both David and the program,” Dr. Sanfilippo said. “During his time as the Director of the Internal Medicine core clerkship rotation, he made great strides in improving the experience for our students, as evidenced by significant improvements in their performance in a number of key outcomes, and increased interest in our own IM training program by our graduating students.” Dr. Taylor was also a valuable contributor to the Clerkship Committee and the UG program in general, he added.

Laura Milne

Laura Milne will be assuming the role of Director of the IM core clerkship.  Dr. Milne completed her undergraduate medical studies, general internal medicine residency, and general internal medicine fellowship at Queen’s University.  She worked as a community general internist prior to joining the Division of General Internal Medicine at Queen’s in 2013. Her clinical practice is focused on acute care general internal medicine, stroke prevention, and refractory hypertension.

“Laura’s done a stellar job with the Term 4 Clinical Skills program and is well suited to this new challenge,” Dr. Sanfilippo said. Dr. Taylor will work with Dr. Milne during her transition to this new role until he officially takes over the training program in July.

Jocelyn Garland

Jocelyn Garland will be taking on leadership for the Term 4 Clinical Skills course.  Dr. Garland completed Internal Medicine and Nephrology Training at the University of Western Ontario in 2001. Since that time, Dr. Garland has been working as an Assistant Professor of Nephrology at Queen’s University, where she is a clinical researcher. In 2009, Dr. Garland completed her Masters in Community Health and Epidemiology, and she is a member of the Queen’s University Vascular Calcification Research Group. Dr. Garland is also a highly regarded teacher, having received two Department of Medicine teaching awards for her work in teaching medical students. She served as the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Program Director for the Nephrology Fellowship Program at Queen’s University from 2006- 2011.

“I think this is a great fit given her interests, prior experience and career interests,” Dr. Sanfilippo said.  “She will work with Laura as the current course continues, and Laura has graciously agreed to help with the review of this year’s course, and development of next year’s iteration.”  In this new role, Dr. Garland will be working with Kathy Bowes (coordinator) and Cherie Jones (Clinical Skills Director).


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