Members of the Department of Pediatrics Administrative Team were instrumental while the department pivoted during the pandemic. (Submitted photo).

Department of Pediatrics: Team Achievement

At the beginning of 2020, the Department of Pediatrics was experiencing a transition in leadership and administration.

By Kristen McEwen

In the spring, the College of Medicine put out a call for nominations for awards to recognize staff members at the college who go above and beyond.

The department was in the middle of the processes of orienting new hires for the roles of interim provincial head and new residency program directors, while also searching for a new finance and administrative manager.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Saskatchewan, administrative teams in the Department of Pediatrics were essential in providing key information for new management as everyone was required to pivot from in-person learning and training to online services.

In recognition for their outstanding and crucial work, Department of Pediatrics provincial department Dr. Athena McConnell (MD) and finance and administrative manager Nicole Shoaf nominated their Clinical, Billing, Medical Education and Executive Administrative Assistants for the Team Achievement Award.

USask employees who are part of these teams include, Jeanine Dice, Michelle Haley, Nancy Groenveld, Mary Grace Benedicto, Christie Klein, Kathy Tunnicliffe, Jennifer Simpson, Laurel Scherr, Sheri Olain, Kathy Doell, Jody Garnett and private department admins Susan Jackson, Radmila Jovic, Cecile Tuerca, Roxanne Rathgeber, Rebecca Florizone, Gina Kangas, Heather Sobry, Kelsey Heagy, Kristy Lang, Larysa Noehring, Tracy Wry, Kerilyn Yaholnitsky, Debbie Milhomens and Angele Thiessen.

The Team Achievement Award is presented annually to a team of staff members working together towards the achievement of a goal related to supporting the College of medicine reach its strategic plan objectives.

“Without the collaboration, respect, excellence, and inclusiveness of our support staff, the Department may have failed in its many responsibilities to students, residents, patients, and faculty members,” wrote McConnell and Shoaf in their support for the team’s nomination. 

“Every member of our support staff – clinical, academic and executive – ensured that their new management had the information and understanding of process to make important decisions and move the department forward during the initial crisis. In the two years since the pandemic was declared, the collaboration, flexibility and dedication of the support staff to the college has not waivered.”

We asked the Pediatrics Administrative team their thoughts on receiving the Team Achievement Award.

The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Please state your team’s role and summarize your responsibilities in 1-2 sentences.

Our team consists of Clinical, Billing, Medical Education and Executive Administrative Assistants in the Department of Pediatrics.  Every member of our team ensures that the responsibilities to students, residents, faculty, departmental mandates, and especially to our patients and families is upmost and this never wavered throughout the pandemic.

What was your collective reaction when you learned your team was named the recipient of this award?

It was a wonderful surprise to receive the congratulations from Mr. Gregory Power of our award.  It was a sense of pride to be part of a team that worked so hard during the challenging times of COVID. The CoM went above and beyond in their support of all staff. 

What does it mean for your team to be recognized in this way?

It is a great honor to receive this recognition not only from the College of Medicine but from our department. Through all the workforce struggles of the pandemic, it is gratifying to be nominated by our department and be recognized for all work being done by our team. Each and every one of us could have been recognized for the award, but having said that, it's only because each and every one of us are so diligent and proud to work for the Department of Pediatrics.

What motivates your team to go above and beyond for your department?

When you feel supported and encouraged from your supervisor, faculty, manager and colleagues, you can’t help but strive to do your best every day. Helping families and patients is so important and will always be our vision. 

What work/professional accomplishment is your team most proud of over the past year?

Reorganization of teaching from in-person to online was a huge undertaking but we were able to maintain a solid teaching flow. 

Communication with families has been a pivotal struggle for our staff but it has been our greatest achievement.  We were able to maintain calmness, fairness and empathy with families of a sick child.  We were able to display respect and ethical behavior when listening to the frustration and anger of a parent struggling to access care for their child during COVID. 

What does your team enjoy most about working for the college/university?

The team spirit that is fueled by our team, the College of Medicine, and the Department of Pediatrics is definitely the highlight of our work.  One team member puts it best – “I'm very happy and proud to say I work for the Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine at USask.”