Office of the Vice Dean

Cultivating a student-centred environment to ensure patient-centred physicians. 
Dr. Patricia Houston, Vice Dean, Medical Education

Dr. Patricia Houston

Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.

These are words penned by writer and social gerontologist Eleanor Brownn. It’s a sentiment that rings true for people caring for loved ones or helping others solve problems. It also resonates in medical education.

This year, we’re adopting a new, formative approach to assessment of professionalism, one of the competencies outlined in the CanMEDS Physician Competency Framework. In helping students develop their own professional identities, we want to connect with them in constructive ways. Being a professional is a life long learning experience.

As part of the new curriculum, we’re intervening earlier to offer formative assistance for students as they learn the competencies needed to be a member of a health care team. We will identify issues early on and provide personalized education on professional conduct and give opportunities for faculty and students to discuss the behaviour in question and develop strategies for improvement.

Additionally, we now have multiple assessment points to help our students address any academic difficulties they may experience. We’re shifting the focus from assessing students’ learning to performing assessments to support their learning. By using formative feedback and personalized learning plans when challenges arise, we can help ensure students reach their potential.

We’re also working to help students achieve work-life balance. In addition to offering a week’s break in the middle of first and second terms, our students are now able to schedule three days of personal time during the academic year without question. Through this, we want to empower students to take control of their time to harmonize their academic responsibilities with other personal priorities and life events.

Medical school is well known to be challenging and filled with stressors, which makes integrating a culture of wellness and resilience so important. I’m so proud of the work our MD Program team has done to bring in and embrace these changes.

I would like to thank Professors Marcus Law, Director of the Foundations MD Program and Pier Bryden, Director of Program Integration who led the curriculum renewal process as well as Professors Richard Pittini, Director of  Program Evaluation and Glendon Tait, Director of Student Assessment who have helped usher in the new model of evaluation.  The entire MD Program team is committed to excellence in curricular innovation and student experience. There is still much to do.

As we prepare our students to become the next generation of leaders in the health sciences, we need to make sure we give them space to take care of themselves so that one day, they can help others.

Patricia Houston
Vice Dean, Medical Education
Faculty of Medicine

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