Working for change

Palak Suryavanshi is one of many students helping the college to prepare for the October accreditation visit

By Marg Sheridan

The purpose of accreditation is to ensure that the College of Medicine is providing the best, most useful, MD education that it can for our students – so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the students themselves play a large role in process.

For Palak Suryavanshi, a third-year MD student in Regina, joining the team not only helped her feel like she was making an impact, but gave her insight into the work being done behind the scenes to get ready for the October visit.

“I helped last year as well,” Suryavanshi said. “I was on (both) the (faculty) and administration committees, andi t was great to see how the (faculty) and the administration worked together on those elements.”

Before her work last year, Suryavanshi admitted she wasn’t really aware of the breadth of the accreditation process, and how exhaustive it is.

“I knew there were a few elements that they were working on,” she explained. “But didn’t realize that there were 12 (standards) that they were working on I didn’t understand the process well, and I didn’t understand that there were different committee for the student processes compared to the administrative subcommittees.

“So it wasn’t all that clear to me, but when I joined the subcommittee it all started to fall into place.”

And it’s not a cake-walk. In addition to the regular balancing act medical students manage in terms of their education and personal lives, Suryavanshi now has accreditation-related homework. Reading the Independent Student Analysis (ISA) manual and student survey, and then going through all the college-provided prep-documents – which includes summaries of all the accreditation subcommittees – are all required of her in advance of the visit because Suryavanshi and her fellow student volunteers are more than just boots on the ground.

“This time around I’m on the lunch with the accreditors who are coming in the fall,” she stressed. “And they will be asking us our experiences, and whether we know what to do in a specific situation. In general, they want to get a perspective on how school has been going for us, and understand whether we’re aware of all (College of Medicine) policies.

“Now I’m talking to them directly, rather than through a subcommittee with the people I was working through.”

But she’s not just hopeful that all the work she’s seen done, and contributed to, will lead to a positive result in October, but also looking forward to being able to take the experiences she’s had on the administrative side of this and use it to further her career.

“I think I’m excited because as a school I think we’re pretty confident about the process going in and we have worked really hard,” she explained. “I think it’s time.

“Change is something that’s hard to bring in and people usually have to push for it. But having this experience will help me move forward because nothing is stagnant, and if you’re working with the change that’s good.”