Feature: A proactive approach to professional affairs

Photograph of Dr. Bill McCauley
By Crystal Mackay, MA’05

When Dr. Bill McCauley talks about his new role as Assistant Dean, Professional Affairs every conversation comes back to the importance of being proactive rather than reactive. His vision for the role is one that emphasizes cooperation and education when it comes to effectively dealing with challenging professional relationships.

The Assistant Dean Professional Affairs is a new role at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and is part of the Clinical Faculty Affairs portfolio. The role encompasses all aspects of clinical faculty members’ professional affairs, from promotions to roles and responsibilities through academic role categories to managing issues that arise with respect to professionalism and professional relationships.

“I try to acknowledge that there are struggles in professional relationships that lead to a full spectrum of professional behaviour and I believe it’s important to get people or groups working together to try to sort it out,” Dr. McCauley said. “My goal is to give leaders and faculty members the skills that are needed in order to deal with these issues in a more proactive and productive way as opposed to a reactive and punitive way.”

In order to do that, his focus is on providing workshops and presentations to various groups throughout the School, including plans to onboard new chairs in order to prepare them for how to deal with challenging professional relationships before they get out of control.

He also hopes to develop a process specific to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry that is built on understanding the context and underpinnings of the challenges. He has found that an open, honest, transparent and supportive approach to working with physicians greatly enhances the positive relationships that are necessary to encourage change.

“My goal is to try to understand what’s happening and then try to get people to reflect on how they can contribute to making things better and how they would like to see others contribute to making the situation better, and then meet together collectively to figure out how to move forward,” he said.

An alumnus of Schulich Medicine and an emergency medicine physician who has practised clinically in London for three decades, Dr. McCauley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role. While completing a master’s degree in Health Professionals Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, his research focused on effective ways of encouraging physicians to change their practice behaviours.

He also worked as a Medical Advisor for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) for 15 years, working one-on-one with physicians who were identified as having to change their practice pattern. At the CPSO, he also worked to implement changes on the College level to take a ‘regulation through education’ approach to medical regulation. 

Dr. McCauley has worked with many national and international organizations with an interest in assessing physicians’ practice, continuing professional development and changing practice patterns. These organizations include the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada and the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities.