Dean Dr. Preston Smith (MD)

Message From the Dean

Your college continued its important work navigating the COVID-19 pandemic during 2021-22, while bringing education programs and research activities more fully and safely back to “normal.”

By Dean Preston Smith

In line with the university’s guidance, the college continues to adhere to safety measures as needed for in-person activities. We also continue with a more blended, or “hybrid” approach to learning and working that supports a balance of in-person and virtual work where practical and efficient. I have certainly noticed a lot more activity on our main Saskatoon campus this fall and it is exciting to see so many learners making their way about our health sciences and other spaces!

This past year, the CoM significantly advanced its work to create a new Division of Indigenous Health, recruiting Dr. Janet Tootoosis as interim vice-dean Indigenous Health this past June. The position was created to bring Indigenous health and issues more fully to the forefront in college priorities, while also serving to improve how these critical areas are addressed. The vice-dean will bring together a team to form the college’s new Division of Indigenous Health and lead that team in coordinating and enhancing existing initiatives and laying the groundwork for the longer-term plans and work of the division. The vice-dean will provide key leadership in more effectively addressing Indigenous health needs in Saskatchewan and Indigenization of the college.The college has made important changes to its medical doctor admissions approach to draw more applicants who reflect Saskatchewan’s population and ultimately stay to practice medicine here, including in our rural areas.

The changes will be in effect for the next round of applications to the program, which are open from early August to October 1, 2022, with successful applicants starting the program in August 2023. As well, an Indigenous admissions circle will help increase the number of Indigenous people applying and gaining acceptance to the program and an Indigenous studies pre-requisite will be added to course requirements starting with applications to the program in 2024.

Our postgraduate medical education programs have also seen exciting changes. The college announced in September 2021 the expansion of its family medicine residency program with the opening of training in key communities in southeast Saskatchewan, growing our family medicine residency seats from 48 to 52. Training will be provided in 12 rural Saskatchewan communities: Estevan, Humbolt, Moosomin, Weyburn, Yorkton, Esterhazy, Indian Head, Melville, Redvers, Strasbourg, Watrous, and Wynyard. And in other postgrad news, medical residents interested in cancer care now have the opportunity to train at home for the first time in Saskatchewan’s history. The CoM is launching a new residency program in medical oncology, in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency (SCA), and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. The two-year medical oncologist residency program will welcome its first resident in July 2023.

New staff awards were given out for the first time this past year, and features on the many deserving recipients are being shared regularly on our college website news section, while the annual process is underway for nominations and selection of next year’s recipients.

The CoM continues to be fully accredited across all its education programs. Preparations are well underway for a full accreditation review of postgraduate medical education, taking place in 2023. Medical research led and supported by the college and its researchers continues to grow in presence and impact. Important progress has been made across critical areas of health including heart and stroke, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, childhood epilepsy, COVID-19, and much more.

Please take time to read through this issue of our annual magazine to learn more of the news from your college. You will note several new faces on our advancement team page, who you may already have met or will in future through their various outreach initiatives.