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Faculty reflection by Gerry Cooper, associate dean

Dear Friends,

I was reflecting on a couple of convergent themes which underscore the importance of areas within your medical education which may not always be 'front and centre'.

First, there was an interesting article that was recently shared with me by Dr. Allen Heimann, Windsor Campus coordinator of the Year 1 Population Health course. The article focused on the high rate of medical errors in Western medicine and the problems associated with our ability to track the frequency and extent of such errors. The article is available on the National Public Radio (NPR) website.

Not surprisingly, this kind of reflection can easily lead to a focus on some of the CanMEDS competencies, apart from medical expert: Communicator, Collaborator and Health Advocate, to name a few.

In connection, I want to congratulate the Schulich Medicine team who helped to enable a successful IPE Day on March 28 at both the London Campus and the Windsor Campus: Dr. Kevin Fung, Dr. Krista Helleman, Ms. Brenda McLaughlin and Ms. Nicole Sbrocca. It is through efforts like this that we move the yardsticks in terms of our ability to get medical learners to learn how to communicate with and engage in respectful collaboration with other health care providers. Over the long haul, one would hope that these kinds of educational activities improve our ability to communicate more effectively within the clinical team and thus to reduce medical errors.

The second observation comes from when I recently attended the 2016 Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME); specifically, the final plenary session of the conference entitled “How does medical education contribute to developing accountability in physicians?” The featured talks were provided by Dr. Antonia Maioni, associate VP, McGill University and Dr. Roger Strasser, founding dean, Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM).

Dr. Maioni, in particular, spoke at length about the importance of advocacy as a physician competency with regard to our collective ability to create a better health care system. This was reinforced by Dr. Strasser. It was Dr. Maioni’s concluding slide which indicated that the best way to teach accountability among future physicians is to get them to understand how the system has been structured (insurance arrangements, access & costs issues, licensing/regulation issues), the compromises that have been required to get the system to where it is today and to be able to critically assess how it functions. In Dr. Maioni’s estimation, as these things are done, medical learners will need to learn where they fit within the system and, importantly, that they discover their potential as advocates.

Point well taken.

As we look to the Convocation Ceremony on May 13 and celebrate the Medicine Class of 2016, it seems to me that we have a wonderful group of medical learners who have gotten the message about the importance of Communication, Collaboration and Health Advocacy. I wish these graduates all the very best with their future medical training and thank them for the opportunity to be a part of their important educational journey.

Best wishes,

Gerry Cooper EdD
Associate Dean, Windsor Campus