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Bachelor of Medical Sciences Undergraduate Education Program, Department Profile

By Angela McInnes

Joan Estabrooks and Kathy Boon, the Basic Medical Sciences Undergraduate Education (BMSUE) team, is the even-keeled face of the undergraduate Bachelor of Medical Sciences (BMSc) and Neuroscience programs.

Beneath the well-organized exterior, the unit is a bustling hive of activity as they work tirelessly ensuring the programs run as efficiently as possible for everyone involved.

Whether it be coordinating classroom timetables, helping to draft program modules, or meeting students face-to-face, the small but mighty BMSUE team has its work cut out as the centralized hub of information and technical support for all undergraduate basic medical science departments and their 1000 students. In essence, they are the nerve centre of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s undergraduate programs. 

Estabrooks and Boon tackle the behind-the-scenes functions for undergraduate basic medical science departments, in collaboration with their respective undergraduate chairs. With Boon focusing largely on the academic tasks and Estabrooks on the administrative, the two work harmoniously to make all program information streamlined and accessible.

 “So many academic processes move smoother when you have one person overseeing everything and everybody’s talking to each other. Our departments really do talk and participate, and I think that makes everything work,” said Estabrooks.

While the unit is challenged on a daily basis to make certain faculty, staff and students have the information and tools they need, they must work doubly hard during annual registration and adjudication periods.

“I think people would be shocked to realize that adjudication is a manual process we undertake in a three week period, with critical deadlines,” said Estabrooks. “It can’t be automated because a human needs to come in to make decisions about where the applicants are heading. We always want to do what’s best for the student.”

As if that was not enough, the unit also supports extra Schulich Medicine & Dentistry initiatives, such as the Social Committee and Wellness Committee. However, their true claim to fame lies in the Halloween cupcakes they bake, decorate and sell in the Medical Sciences Building lobby to raise funds for United Way. This year, they sold out of 250 Cookie Monsters, werewolves, mummies, ghouls and owls in less than an hour. 

Having earned a Dean’s Award of Excellence in 2013, the dynamic duo strives to maintain and surpass their own high performance standards, as they know the work they do is ultimately an integral component to the success of undergraduate students at the School.

“Graduates from the program will often come down and thank us for helping them get where they are,” said Estabrooks.

“We’re here for the students, and we love working with all the different departments,” added Boon. “Our goal at the end of the day is simply to make our programs run as smoothly as they can.”