Vice-Dean Indigenous Health position created at USask College of Medicine

The College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has hired its first vice-dean Indigenous Health. 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.

Dr. Janet Tootoosis (MD) will serve as interim vice-dean Indigenous health to advance work in the portfolio while a search for a permanent vice-dean is conducted. She’s been hired for a one-year period, starting June 1, 2022, with the expectation that the search will be completed and the role will be filled permanently in that timeframe.

“This is a really important step for our college,” said Dr. Preston Smith, dean of medicine. “While we have had significant success in recent years in areas like Indigenous admissions and Indigenous health research, we need more resources and better integration and coordination of our existing resources if we are truly to meet the Calls for Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.”

In the interim role, Tootoosis will bring together a team to form the college’s new Division of Indigenous Health and lead that team in co-ordinating 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 opportunity to focus my knowledge, experience, and skill in advancing the work in Indigenous health for the USask College of Medicine is truly an honour,” Tootoosis said. “I look forward to supporting the initial task of building the Division of Indigenous Health. There is much work already underway and more to be done.” 

A 1999 graduate of the College of Medicine’s medical doctor program, Tootoosis is currently a family physician and the residency program site director in North Battleford, as well as a clinical associate professor in the college.

Currently, the college has three vice-dean positions for each of education, research and faculty engagement. Tootoosis will be a key member of the college’s senior administrative leadership team alongside the dean, other vice-deans and the chief operating officer.

Article re-posted on May 4.
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