November 2, 2017
It’s been a busy two months since the beginning of the semester, with some significant developments I’m excited to share with you.
MD program receives accreditation
First and foremost, I am delighted to report that our undergraduate medical education program has received accreditation for an eight-year term. This favourable result is the culmination of years of effort throughout the Faculty of Medicine, during which we examined every aspect of our curriculum and operations and took the necessary actions to ensure everything we do meets the extremely high bar set by the accrediting bodies.
The Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) recently delivered its report and the welcome news that our MD program meets the accreditation standards for medical schools in North America. Of the 12 overall standards, 11 were rated as satisfactory and one as satisfactory with further monitoring in a year when we have more data in hand.
Of the 94 elements within those 12 standards, only one rated unsatisfactory. This was to do with students’ awareness of mistreatment policies and reporting mechanisms, and reports of mistreatment. We had already identified this element as an issue during our self-study process and begun taking action to ensure students are fully aware of these policies and how to report any violations. We strongly encourage students to report episodes of mistreatment in order for us to take appropriate corrective actions. We will follow up with CACMS about progress made regarding this element in a report to our accreditors required in one year.
The accreditation review team reported they were particularly impressed by the high degree of engagement of our leaders, faculty, students and staff in improving the quality of medical education. Other notable strengths are the quality of our IT technical and human resources. The accreditors also praised the quality of our distributed education programs and Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick.
I want to thank and congratulate the many people who have played a role in improving our medical education and have contributed to the accreditation process. This was a team effort and we truly have a great team at Dalhousie!
You can learn more about the accreditation process and our results in this article, recently posted on our website.
Wave research teams announced
This month marked the culmination of another very important process in the Faculty of Medicine that came from our strategic plan—#DalMedForward—the announcement of our Wave research teams. You’ll recall the goal of the Wave process was to develop internationally leading teams of researchers who are competitive now (Wave I) or will be competitive in three to five years (Wave II) for major national and international funding opportunities.
It has been gratifying to see the level of engagement and enthusiasm from our research community around this call for proposals. We received proposals from 27 research teams, involving 275 researchers, in a wide range of research areas. It was a huge task to sift through all those applications, evaluate them, and make strategic decisions about areas of focus. We were fortunate to have our former dean, Dr. Tom Marrie, chairing the review panel that consisted of senior leaders in research, health care and fundraising.
At special event last month, we announced the successful teams. There were two Wave I teams: Genomics in Medicine and I3V (Infection, Immunity, Inflammation & Vaccinology). There were also two Wave II teams. One was a collaboration of seven research groups that were amalgamated into a Health Priorities team and the second was a Cardiovascular Diseases team. For more detailed information about the four Wave teams, read “The Wave” reveals strengths and priorities for medical research (Dal Med News).
The goal of the Wave process is to greatly grow “the pie” of research opportunities. Identifying areas of focus and international strength will enhance our chances of securing major sources of funding in this competitive research environment. As per our strategic plan, we also will continue to support our base of researchers and develop resources that will be of benefit overall to our research efforts.
I was grateful that at the event announcing our Wave teams, we had special speakers including Ms. Denise Perret, Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness for Nova Scotia, Dr. Alice Aiken, VP Research from Dalhousie, Dr. Tom Marrie, VP research NSHA, Dr. Edouard Hendricks, VP Medicine Horizon Health Authority, Dr. Jason Berman, VP Research IWK, and Mr. Brian Thompson, CEO of DMRF. All spoke about this being a very important and exciting time in health research in the Maritime Provinces. We are now in a place of unprecedented alignment of our research community in partnership with health care providers, decision makers and policymakers. There’s a stronger shared sense of direction, to which the Wave brings further momentum and a real opportunity to make substantial positive impacts on health and health care. I’m looking forward to working with our associate deans, other faculties at Dalhousie, our research teams, and partners to continue to refine and advance our research mission.
The Molly Appeal to advance personalized cancer treatment
Also in the realm of research, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation’s annual Molly Appeal is well underway. This year’s campaign will raise funds to provide Dalhousie cancer researchers with resources to develop personalized cancer treatments, tailored to the specific genetic and molecular profile of individual patients’ cancers.
Personalized cancer treatment really is the way of the future. As we identify more genetic mutations and develop or re-purpose drugs that reverse the effects of those mutations, we can put more people’s cancers into remission, with far fewer side effects and much better chances of survival. This research is part of Wave 1 team, Genomics in Medicine, and I’m delighted that it’s the focus of this year’s Molly Appeal.
If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to make a gift to this year’s Molly Appeal. You can learn more about the campaign here.
Moving forward with our strategic plan
We are continuing our ongoing efforts to both fulfill the goals of our “#DalMedForward” strategic plan, and to ensure that our plan is in alignment with the needs of citizens and communities here in the Maritimes. I was pleased to host the Faculty of Medicine Dean’s Retreat in Fredericton last week, under the theme, “Serving and Engaging the Maritime Community through Research, Education and Health Policy.”
We were able to address many key areas of the strategic plan, and chart our next steps in such important endeavours as recruitment of rural students to medical school, provision of quality health care in rural communities, and strengthening research that enhances the health care of rural Canadians.
An updated overview of the Way Forward strategic plan can be found here.
150th anniversary celebrations kicking off soon
The end of 2017 is coming up quickly, which means we will soon be starting our year of 150th anniversary celebrations. We’ll be kicking off on December 2 with the 7th Annual Thomas and Alice Morgans Fear Memorial Conference, which will focus on emergency response and preparedness.
This promises to be an extremely interesting day, as we look back at the Halifax Explosion, 100 years later, from a medical perspective. Dr. Jock Murray will take us back to the unfolding of this tragic event in our history, with an eye to the truly vital role that Dalhousie Medical School played in response to the mass casualties and injuries that needed to be treated.
Other speakers will walk us through the history of Canadian disasters and lessons learned, current practices in disaster planning, the importance of physiological skills training for clinical practice, and how to foster resilience in disaster situations. You can download the draft program here: Dec 2, 2017 Emergency Preparedness Conference Draft Schedule, and register here. I hope to see you there!
I also hope to see you a year from now, on November 3, 2018, when we’ll be hosting our biggest gala event ever. Mark your calendars and visit our 150th website for more details.
In the meantime, enjoy these last few days of mild weather before we head into winter. I wish you the best with all of your endeavours over the remaining two months before the holidays and the beginning of our 150th anniversary year of Dalhousie Medical School and the 200th anniversary of Dalhousie University!