Interim Dean's Message 

 

Dr. Marilyn Baetz (MD) is the interim dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.

January 8, 2024

Greetings to all! I hope this message finds you well and refreshed after the holiday break. With this, my first message to you as interim dean, I want to welcome you back for the start of a new year.

The holiday season is a time for rest, reflection, and rejuvenation. Over the break, my husband Andrew and I hosted my extended family for our first gathering since my mom passed away this past fall. That change, along with the fact that both of our children are married now, means more juggling of time to be together. We know that change is the one constant, so it is important to embrace it. As we step into the New Year, that theme of change will be with us as we gear up for an exciting and busy time ahead.

Although we are so fortunate that Dr. Preston Smith has left things in good shape at the college, there is no time to let things slide. I have hit the ground running and am excited to keep the momentum going. Our college thrives on the energy, ideas and enthusiasm that you bring. Your curiosity, passion, and dedication to bettering our college is what makes us proud and successful.

My work with faculty (and staff) engagement has reinforced the importance of building and maintaining relationships as key to effectively moving forward. Caring for each other and building teams are key to inspiring progress and I look forward to working with all of you to continue the good work we have been doing.

Some of that good work includes the recent full PGME accreditation review, gearing up for another full UGME accreditation review in 2026, and another admissions cycle, the second for our renewed MD admissions processes, which have already proven promising and effective. Take a few minutes to look at these great graphics on our admissions website showcasing results from the first year of our Saskatchewan-connectedness admissions process.

Our growth mandate is gearing up even more, with the new Master of Physician Assistant Studies program now in development to welcome its first learners in 2025, the potential for new occupational therapy and speech-language pathology programs, and growth in our training sites across the province.

There is also a change in our research portfolio. With the New Year, Dr. Marek Radomski is on a well-deserved six-month administrative leave, and Dr. David Cooper brings his talents to the vice-dean research role during this time. The research enterprise keeps moving forward with new researchers joining the college, alongside investment in supporting resources, including a research navigation specialist to make their welcome even warmer. The upcoming CoMGRAD awards, with an application deadline of January 15, are positioned as a pivotal opportunity to encourage and reward graduate students and supervisors as they pursue external funding, contributing to the team's ongoing commitment to furthering research. Please refer to the Research Impact page on the CoM website with our recently updated research reports.

Changes in fundraising and alumni and donor relations include work to include medical residents among our college alumni and the recent unveiling of the new CoM Alumni and Community program and Community Advisory Committee, replacing the former CoM Alumni Association. Beyond that, the annual finance and budget cycle gets even more intense as we prepare for this fiscal year-end and finalize budgets for our next fiscal year beginning May 1. Thankfully we have a fantastic finance team, as budgeting of this magnitude is a huge learning curve for a new dean!

I had the opportunity to connect with MD program clerks (Year 3 and 4 medical students) at their town hall meeting in December. I met with the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan executive. Connecting with our learners is both informative and refreshing and will be an important part of my work in this role. As vice-dean faculty engagement, I also found taking our team out to meet faculty, staff and learners where they are, in different communities across the province, to be so beneficial and plan to continue doing this as interim dean. The life of the college occurs at the local department level where academic and clinical work comes together. We cannot forget the crucial synergy required to meet our mission.

Through the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, I became involved with the Okanagan Charter, a global initiative that encourages universities and colleges to incorporate wellness into every facet of campus life and to spearhead health promotion efforts both locally and worldwide. Established in June 2015, the charter equips institutions with a common language, principles, and a structure to transform them into campuses that promote health and well-being. Considering the pressure on our healthcare system, it is of utmost importance to be proactive in this area for the benefit of our students, their educators, and the staff and other team members who support them.

I will be in touch again soon with more updates on progress across the CoM.