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Achievements by Dr. Gary Tithecott

Convocation flowers

It is spring on campus – tulips of purple and white are in bloom, trees blossom, buildings and roads quiet as final assessments transpire, and our Convocation waits.

The month of May is a time to celebrate the achievements of many in our Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) program. Meds 2019, 2018 and 2017 are nearing year end of curriculum. The Schulich Medicine & Dentistry Awards of Excellence Dinner is a week away. And on May 13, Meds 2016 celebrate their graduation as new Doctors of Medicine. It is an exciting time to reflect on the year and what we can learn from our achievements.

With success (and failure) there is always a reason to pause, reflect and reframe. Achievements come from setting goals, motivation, hard work, mentorship, supports to self and others and execution of plans.

While this could seem to centre on career, I propose this targets personal goals and keeping a healthy balance for life.

Achievements are not only from you, but occur with the support of teams of family, friends, peers, staff and faculty. Teamwork is evident this spring in many ways. It is key to the success seen in recent professional soccer, hockey and basketball team playoffs. Teamwork is a value we see each day in our work. It has been emphasized each hour of the past week in the tragic wildfire challenges we face as a nation in Alberta and BC. The drive by local and national communities and groups to support fellow Canadians in need is commendable.

While we all pray for and think of the victims and the brave Canadians fighting this tragedy of nature, I marvel at the supports given to each person impacted by our fellow Canadians. Teamwork delivers. Let it always remain a principle of your career and life.

Each new physician in Meds 2016 will carry memories and key lessons from our School that will shape their lives as professionals and individuals. For many, your life path is now more clearly defined. For others, it may just be starting to take shape.

I say to each, as I said at your White Coat Ceremony in 2012, do not box yourselves in. Opportunity will knock on your door many times during your career. Stop, listen and reflect before you decide. Use the values and tools our School has given you to make wise choices in patient care, scholarship and life.
Always look to improve yourself and the outcomes of others. Be a leader of great teams that achieve.

Last year, I was sponsored by our School to study for one week as a Harvard Macy Scholar in Boston. I met some amazing people and learned a lot. It was like being in business school all over again.

One faculty member I was most impressed with was Dr. Clayton Christensen – a world renowned scholar and leader in innovation from the Harvard Business School. While his teaching is inspiring, his life lessons and engagement were what I recall best.  

In looking for words of inspiration to the students – I have the privilege of acting as Associate Dean for UME – I have these words of wisdom to share from Dr. Christensen’s article “How Will You Measure Your Life” in 2010.1  

In the work that inspired his book, Dr. Christensen speaks of fashioning a life that makes priorities around learning and growing from all your responsibilities, contributing to others and being rewarded for effort and successes – no matter how large or small.

His article has six directions for success:

  1. Create a Life Strategy: Be purposeful in how you approach personal and professional goals. Reassess often using reflection and consultation with those you value. Keep to priorities. Make family and your personal development matter in a balance with your career.
  2. Allocate Resources Wisely: Use your time, supports for and from others, personal and team energy and all finances wisely. Invest across all aspects of your career, family and community. Pay it forward and back.
  3. Create and Nurture a Culture: At all times be positive, transparent, empowering and available in all you do and for all you serve and support.
  4. Hold to your Principles: Be yourself always. Do not stray from your plan in spite of what may seem a compelling opportunity unless all agree it fits.
  5. Be Humble: In all your vision, failure and achievements of career and life.
  6. Chose the Right Metrics: Be measured by what you value and want to be known for. Look beyond financial gain to enrich the lives and outcomes of your family and those whom you are privileged to touch through your career.

This are words we all can learn from and I trust will resonate for Meds 2016 in their new careers across Canada, as well as for Meds 2017, 2018 and 2019.

I wish success to our first- and second-year students in their end of semester assessments. Summer beckons and the opportunities many of you have created to advance your learning in a variety of areas.

To Meds 2017 – Clerkship is entering the final phase. Your achievements continue to grow.

To Meds 2016, I will think of you at the Convocation Ceremony, as I attend our daughter’s doctoral graduation at the University of Iowa on May 13. To each of you, I say thank you for all you have taught us and given to our School, the community we serve, science, patient care and your peers.

To our School faculty and staff, families and friends of our graduates, please accept our gratitude for the support you have given to our future physicians, leaders and scientists.

I wish each of you every success over the years to come. Enjoy every minute.


Dr. Gary Tithecott


1. Christensen, C. M. (2010). How will you measure your life. Harvard Business Review, 88(7/8), 46-51.