Town Hall Recap: A collective vision for the future of the Faculty
In late 2018 and this January, Dean Bernard Jasmin and the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) hosted a new series of town halls to consult on two documents (Action Plan 2018 and the Internationalization and Global Health Task Force Report) shared with all stakeholders in relation to the Faculty of Medicine’s strategic priorities for the next three to five years.
Dr. Jasmin emphasized that the feedback was very positive and that ultimately, this faculty is “our faculty” and everyone’s contributions matter for our collective success. Approximately one hundred pages of email feedback with in person input were received and, centered largely along the following themes:
1 – Innovation: Education and Research
The Faculty’s educational programs (undergraduate medical education, postgraduate medical education, graduate and postdoctoral studies, the joint MD/PhD program and the Bachelor of Translational and Molecular Medicine) remain key areas of focus. Some new initiatives are already in development, including a pipeline program to streamline admissions for MD students of a lower socio-economic status, while others are being considered, such as the creation and expansion of various new graduate programs and joint degree programs.
The feedback received supports a Faculty’s strategy for research that maintains and grows current initiatives. This includes promoting translational medicine, sustaining clinical research chair programs, developing chair programs for basic scientists, seeking out new sources of funding and enhancing core facilities. The Faculty is also exploring many new research initiatives, such as medical artificial intelligence, Indigenous health, maternal and child health, emergency medicine and thrombosis research, to name a few. The Faculty is focusing on its strengths and niche areas of expertise to lead research innovation for the next five years.
2 – Engagement: Recognition and Wellness; Diversity and Inclusion
The Faculty Experience Team (FET) consists of champions from each basic science and clinical department at the Faculty of Medicine and helps to facilitate two-way communication between the Leadership Team and faculty members. The aim is to give greater voice and influence to individuals through engagement in strategic discussions to foster transparency and inclusivity. In collaboration with Faculty Affairs, FET has two current areas of focus: recognition and wellness.
Another priority at the Faculty is equity, diversity and gender. The mandate of this portfolio is to raise awareness, encourage sensitivity and highlight pathways to improve equality and diversity in all aspects of activities at the Faculty of Medicine. Last July, the Faculty’s Dr. Steffany Bennett was appointed Special Advisor, Diversity and Inclusion to the Office of the President at the University of Ottawa for a two-year period. Since then, Dr. Bennett has been working within the Faculty and the University on policy review and development covering all matters relating to the Ontario Human Rights Code.
3 – Internationalization and Global Health
The findings of the Internationalization and Global Health (IGH) Task Force outlined key recommendations on how to proceed with future international partnerships and global health initiatives at the Faculty—specifically in defining “internationalization” and “global health” as two distinct areas of international activities. Internationalization is a commitment, through action, to infuse international comparative perspectives in teaching, research and services of higher education, and global health is the health of populations in the global context (including local marginalized populations).
Key recommendations of the IGH Task Force’s report include initiating a systematic collection of international data to monitor trends and set metrics to define how, when, where and with whom to establish international partnerships. Furthermore, the report suggests a careful balance between the short-term and long-term needs, consequences, benefits and challenges of any given partnership.
For the global health portfolio, the Task Force report recommended unifying all global health activities across the Faculty, formalizing global health placements within existing curricula and developing more academic offerings. As next steps, the mandate and structure of the Office of Internationalization will be redefined. Current international partnerships will be reassessed based on strategic direction and quality assurance.
4 – Francophonie
Bilingualism and Francophonie has become a key priority for the Faculty of Medicine and the University. Francophone Affairs is working to enrich the bilingual community at the Faculty through the development of second-language training (both English and French) as well as support for clinician-educators who are teaching in a second language. Further work will be done on establishing best teaching practices for a bilingual learning institution where more opportunities can be made available in both official languages. Several new initiatives in support of Francophonie are being explored and developed including, for example, a master’s in medical education and a school of pharmacy.
5 – Physical Space and Infrastructure
Space remains a huge challenge for the Faculty of Medicine as programs expand and new educational and research projects are created. To remain competitive and innovative, the Faculty must enhance its existing infrastructure and work in close collaboration with the University of Ottawa central administration to achieve these goals. Discussions are ongoing between the leadership teams at the Faculty of Medicine and the University on how to resolve the current space and infrastructure limitations, particularly within the current budget constraint scenario.
Next Steps and Imagine 2030
As the University of Ottawa is currently in the process of planning its next 10-year strategic plan, Imagine 2030, it is crucial for the Faculty of Medicine to have a clearly defined vision to bring to the table at central administration.
Following these town halls, there will be a Senior Leadership Team (vice-deans and chairs) retreat in February to consolidate and review all the feedback and additional comments received. From February to March, focused group discussions will take place amongst various existing committees related to the five priority areas. Starting in April, all information gathered will be used to create, over the summer, an up-to-date strategic plan with action items. This document will be widely shared, and implementation will take place over the next three to five years.