Dean Dr. Preston Smith (MD)
Dean Dr. Preston Smith (MD)

Message From the Dean

As you may have heard, April next year marks a new opportunity and challenge for me when I begin as the founding dean of the medical faculty at the University of Prince Edward Island.

By Dean Preston Smith

I was born on PEI so this is for me a truly unique and personally important move, as it will also bring my wife, Jane, and I closer to many family members. But exciting as this is, there is truly a bittersweet element to it, as we were so warmly welcomed here, have spent nearly 10 amazing years in Saskatchewan, and being dean of this medical school has been the most challenging and rewarding work of my career.

With that final thought in mind, I do want to share an overview of the news of your college from this past year. As is always the case, it has been a busy year with so much good work taking place across our college and Saskatchewan. You may know the phrase we have used, especially in recent years, as we work and train in all corners of the province, that “our province is our campus.” While we have a lot of work to do to ensure that Indigenous, rural and remote communities are better served, we continue to improve and grow, with expansions in family medicine, increased rural learner opportunities and the very successful Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment.

Growth is a top area of focus for the CoM as we increase our medical doctor student seats from 100 to 104 with this past August’s intake, and to 108 in 2024. We offer a residency seat now and have our first resident in medical oncology, with plans to expand to even more specialty areas in the near future, including dermatology with a targeted start date of July 2024. Very recently, on October 31, it was announced that Saskatchewan will establish a Physician Assistant training program in the province, and the provincial government has asked our college to develop a new two-year Physician Assistant Master's program to begin in fall 2025. The School of Rehabilitation Science is providing its Master of Physical Therapy program to a class size of 55 learners now, up from 40, and is moving along in work to add much needed programs in occupational therapy and speech language pathology to its offerings.

We have also grown in another area that is a top focus and priority, with approval last April and work now underway to create a new Department of Indigenous Health and Wellness in our college. Recently, we announced that Dr. Janet Tootoosis has moved from the interim vice-dean of Indigenous health to the permanent leader of this critical unit. Her work ethic, knowledge and wisdom are highly valued and so important for ongoing improvement in how we support Indigenous people and communities in Saskatchewan. She and her team will lead the work to bring people and other resources to the new department.

As well, the college’s Division of Social Accountability is now part of the Office of the Vice-Dean Indigenous Health. This is another important step in our work to improve as an equitable, diverse and inclusive college for all people while maintaining a strong focus on Saskatchewan’s critical need to improve healthcare for Indigenous peoples.

Our Postgraduate Medical Education unit has been busy for many months preparing for a Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and College of Family Physicians of Canada regular accreditation review taking place November 26 to December 1 this year. This is right around the corner as I write this, and I do commend the PGME team, residents and faculty for their work and participation in this full review of all our residency programs and sites and of our institution and its oversight of residency education.