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From the desk of George Kim: Meet Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke – emergency physician, dedicated professor and the new Regional Academic Director for Woodstock

This month, I am pleased to introduce Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke, regional academic director for the Oxford hub, as part of the School’s Distributed Education Network. We sat down and chatted with Dr. Ubantke to get to know her a little better. You can read more about her goals and what she hopes to accomplish in this new role below.

Overall our work on the strategic plan for Distributed Education continues. In the past few weeks, Dr. Gary Tithecott, associate dean, Undergraduate Medical Education and Nicole Sbrocca, manager, Windsor Program, agreed to serve as co-chairs for the Quality Management working committee. They have already put together an impressive and detailed overview of what they hope to accomplish. Their next steps will be to invite faculty and staff to join the committee. Meanwhile work continues all other fronts on this critical plan.

Meet Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke

Tell us about your background.
I grew up in London and received my bachelors of science from Western University. From there I attended medical school at the University of Toronto and then headed west to the University of British Columbia for my family medicine residency.

I also completed my year of CCFP(EM) training at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. I then returned to Southwestern Ontario and began to practice Emergency Medicine. Currently, I work in the Emergency Department at the Woodstock General Hospital. I am also an investigative coroner covering Oxford County and an inquest coroner.

What has been your past experience with distributive education at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry?
I have been an adjunct professor for 10 years. Over the past few years, I have coordinated rotations for medical students and residents in the Emergency Department at the Woodstock General Hospital.

Why did you want to take on this new role?
I wanted to take on this role because I think the medical community outside of the academic centres is a great untapped resource for medical education. By strengthening ties and establishing new local relationships to support faculty development, a strong network of community faculty can be developed where medical students and residents can learn in environments where many will end up practising.

What will be the first things that you will do in your new role?
I plan to go to all the communities in my area, meeting with the physicians there to update them on the evolution of Schulich Medicine’s Distributed Education Network and find out their specific faculty development needs. The needs and sacrifices of faculty outside of academic centres need to be acknowledged.

What do you hope to achieve in your first year?
For my first year, I would really like to focus on faculty recruitment and development. Preceptors with the right tools and supports will form a solid basis for providing quality educational experiences for students of all levels.

What do you believe are some of the opportunities and challenges facing distributed education for medical schools in Canada?
The recruitment, development and support of faculty at distant sites is a continuing challenge. Partnerships and good communication are critical, and these take time and effort to develop and maintain. The opportunity for these challenges to be met, I believe, will be in greater integration of technology into distributed medical education activities, and developing sustainable infrastructure to support distributed learning.

What is Schulich Medicine doing to meet those challenges and opportunities?
I think the establishment of the “hubs” within the Distributed Education Network, each with its own Academic Director, was a good strategy. Using people who know the needs and opportunities in their own communities will allow for better development strategies. They have established local relationships to facilitate communications with Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?
With two children, I am a hockey and soccer mom. I play soccer myself throughout the year. As a family, we enjoy skiing, wilderness canoeing and camping and traveling together.