Dean's Message

Indigenous health, research and our people key to success

November 29, 2018

We launched the CoM’s high level strategic plan document in 2017, complete with our new vision, mission and priority areas. Since then, priority area leaders and their teams have been working to develop a more fully defined plan with objectives and targets. Details about the plan and the new plan document are found here on this webpage.

In this message, I draw your attention to four key areas that will underlie our success as we move forward with our plan: Indigenous health, research, learner support and wellness, and faculty and staff engagement and wellness.

Our role in Indigenization, focused on Indigenous health, is critically important for our college, our healthcare system and university, and our whole province—as we work to ensure equity in education and care. This means we must make substantial improvements for Saskatchewan’s Indigenous peoples. The further detail that’s been added to this priority in our plan outlines how we will respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action as we partner with Indigenous peoples and communities in Saskatchewan in addressing healthcare needs. We will establish an administrative home for Indigenous health within our college, make our spaces more welcoming, and enhance the content and delivery of learning experiences and our curricula.

While we are doing some great work in research, we know from the results and metrics of other medical schools in Canada that we must do better. Our research office has set clear targets to work towards in our more fully defined strategic plan and we must rally as a team to meet these targets and move our school to its rightful place as a research powerhouse for our university and province. Through recruitment of top researchers, work in garnering more Tri-agency and other prestigious research grants, enhancing our biomedical science programs to stimulate research, and supporting increased research collaborations, we will make strong progress.

We must do further work to support our learners and their wellness. While great strides were made in this area in our work to address accreditation issues for our UGME program, we need to build on that and ensure we are taking those same steps for all learners in undergraduate and graduate programs across population health, biomedical sciences (in partnership with our colleagues in the College of Arts and Science), as well as medical education. We will work across many fronts that include improving our learners’ environments, improving supports for learner transitions across programs, further developing wellness programs, and working to ensure our learners do not experience harassment or intimidation.

We have important work to do to improve the workplace satisfaction and engagement of our faculty and staff. On the faculty front, further development of our planning is still needed and key to this is our hiring of the new vice-dean faculty engagement (VDFE). This is well underway. The new VDFE will lead steps to improve faculty governance and administration, and increase faculty engagement in the affairs of the college, as well as improving how we support our faculty in their important work across education and research.

On the administrative staff side, we need to do better in addressing wellness and engagement if we hope to be successful not only in the work identified in the enablers strategic direction but in all areas of our plan. Based on direct feedback from our staff through employee engagement surveys and other means, we have a long way to go. Our administrative staff need greater clarity and consistency in their day-to-day work so that they can see and understand their role in the mission of our college. Seeing the value of their work and being valued for their work is critical for staff engagement and satisfaction, and understandably there is an important role for our college leaders, managers and supervisors in achieving this.

All of these—Indigenous health, research, student support and wellness, and faculty and staff engagement and wellness—must be top of mind for us as we deliver on our vision and mission across the nine strategic directions outlined in our larger 2017-2022 strategic plan document.

Preston Smith