Dr. Jacques Bradwejn shares gratitude and wisdom as he completes his term as uOttawa Dean of Medicine

Photo of Dr. Jacques Bradwejn, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Louis de Melo, Vice-President External Relations. (Photo credit : Bonnie Findley)

“I have so many fond memories from all that we’ve accomplished together in these 11 years.”

-- Dr. Jacques Bradwejn, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa (2006-2017)

After 11 years as Dean of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Jacques Bradwejn looks back with fondness and gratitude for the privilege to serve alongside leadership teams, faculty members, support staff and community partners in advancing medical education and research.

“My experience as Dean has been a fantastic and unforgettable privilege,” he says. “I want to thank my colleagues for the opportunity to lead, improve and build upon a great institution together. It’s has been a fun, memorable and exciting journey.”

Under Dr. Bradwejn’s leadership, the Faculty of Medicine experienced a period of substantial growth and development, becoming an internationally-recognized institution ranked amongst top-tier medical schools in Canada and the world. As Dean, Dr. Bradwejn championed an education system that enabled students and professors to become actors on the world stage in an increasingly globalized health system.

As he completes his term this June, Dr. Bradwejn shares his insights on the future of medical education, how he defines leadership, some personal words of wisdom, and what is next for his expansive career as a professor, researcher and practicing psychiatrist.

Q & A with Dr. Jacques Bradwejn

Q: You’ve been in this particular leadership position for over a decade. What does leadership mean to you?

A: As a leader you are an administrator, but also an innovator. A great leader strives to improve general operations and builds on the work of his or her predecessor, while also moving the agenda forward by trying new things. Innovating sometimes means taking calculated risks, but there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing those risks pay off. Case in point for the Faculty of Medicine, is our Ottawa-Shanghai Joint School of Medicine initiative.

Q: What is important for the future of medical education?

A: The future of medical education lies in a greater emphasis on lifelong learning. This needs to be research-informed, supported by technology and better connected to clinical practice. Societal needs must also be clearly reflected in medical training, and better education extended to patients, their families and the general public.

Q: What is your favourite memory at the Faculty of Medicine?

A: I have so many fond memories from all that we’ve accomplished together in these 11 years. For example, when we got our fantastic UGME accreditation results in 2010; when the uOttawa Brain and Mind Research Institute was approved by the University; the launch of the MD/PhD Program; the creation of the Department of Innovation in Medical Education and the School of Epidemiology and Public Health; our partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine; and the launch of the Ottawa-Shanghai Joint School of Medicine in China. It’s all been quite an exciting experience working with my Leadership Team and the Chairs. Organized pub nights with the students were also a great pleasure!

Q: What are you excited to do next?

A: The University is very generous in allowing me to take one year of administrative leave for every five years served as Dean. In my two years of administrative leave I plan to continue to working for the University.

I have several projects lined up to keep me busy over that time. The first is to continue implementation of the Ottawa-Shanghai Joint School of Medicine and see it to completion in 2020 when the first cohort of students will graduate. After which, the School will be operational and handed over to the next Dean. I will also continue to do academic work. I’ve been writing a psychotherapy manual that I plan to publish and make accessible for free to medical practitioners and patients. Last but not least, I’ve been in discussions with Université de Lyon and various academic institutions in Shanghai about possibly establishing an international medical leadership school that focuses on preparing physicians and clinicians for governance and innovation.

Thus, my wife (who is also taking academic leave with me) and I will spend our time between Canada, China and France in the next year or so.

Q: What would you choose as a career if you weren’t in medicine?

A: My first choice was to be a jazz musician because I really love jazz and playing the saxophone. I didn’t think I had enough talent to do it for living, but I am looking forward to playing more in my spare time.

Q: What is the strangest job you’ve ever had?

A: In my youth I worked as a bouncer for a club in Montreal because I have a black belt in karate.

Q: What is your personal philosophy?

A: My personal philosophy is to be happy. Happiness is anchored in having values and purpose. Obviously, your personal attributes – whatever they may be – define who and what you care for and enjoy, but values and purpose are very important to the human condition. Here at the Faculty of Medicine, we have a slogan to tell the students whenever they get stressed and lose perspective: “Cool down and zoom out.” Cool down means relax and zoom out to regain perspective.

Q: What is one piece of advice you have for the next Dean of Medicine?

A: It will definitely be my view on leadership and innovation: a good administrator can lead and innovate. Also, know your values and know your purpose.

Q: In your opinion, what is the most important innovation you have witnessed in our society?

A: The numerical to digital shift. I started when typewriters were still around and now I love to be at the forefront of technology. I haven’t been using paper for ages and I quite enjoy that. Of course, in medicine, there has been a lot of innovation. I always like to have the latest technology and stay ahead of the students.

Photo of Dr. Bradwejn.

Photo of Dr. Bradwejn. (Photo credit: Mélanie Provencher)


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