The 2021 Alumni of Distinction Award recipients are research leaders, accomplished scholars, role models and community advocates. Their incomparable dedication to human health and improved quality of life stands as examples to which many will aspire. Congratulations to Dr. Karl Cuddy, DDS’10, MD/MSc’15; Dr. Irene Hramiak, MD’76; Dr. Philip Marsden, MD’82; Ayden Scheim, PhD’17; Dr. Andrea Sereda, MD’07; and Dr. Nathan Stall, MD’12.
While the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the School’s Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (PaLM) clinical labs took decisive action to ramp up their testing capacity to support public health efforts across Southwestern Ontario.
In March 2020, the PaLM Microbiology lab performed, processed and reported its
first test for the novel coronavirus. During the course of the next 14 months, the lab processed more than 900,000 tests for seven public health units, including hospitals and long-term care facilities, from Owen Sound to Windsor.
“In a particularly bad influenza season, we used to test 30, maybe 50 samples a day. Now, when we have a really busy day, we’re processing 10,000 COVID-19 tests,” said Dr. Johan Delport, Division Head, Microbiology, and Assistant Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
In just one year of COVID-19 testing, PaLM processed the equivalent to more than 150 years of regular seasonal influenza tests.
Significant changes to the Doctor of Medicine admission process have put a focus on considering academic and non-academic applicant traits in order to get a more holistic view of experiences and values and mitigate barriers for underrepresented
populations within medicine.
Unique in Canada, the School’s ACCESS pathway provides MCAT score flexibility for applicants who have had financial, medical or sociocultural challenges, and for those who self-identify as racialized, those from low socioeconomic backgrounds and those from rural or remote areas.
The School has also worked to recruit a more diverse admissions committee, including more than 600 file reviewers and interviewers from diverse backgrounds, all of whom were required to complete implicit bias training.
A first-in-Ontario voluntary admission survey with the incoming class in the fall of 2020 showed that the changes have led to a more diverse class in terms of race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, as well as rural versus urban and whether or not parents had attended medical school or university.
A new graduate Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences program is offering learners the opportunity to address a wicked problem with an interdisciplinary lens while working in teams. The new one-year, course-based program takes a multi-faceted approach to medical sciences by integrating various fields of study and equips learners with broad knowledge and skillsets through comprehensive professional, personal and academic development. Through the program, learners are immersed in subject areas while learning from a diverse group of researchers and scientists across the School. Experiential learning in the community is a key aspect of the 12-month program.
Dr. Wesley Dunn, the founding Dean of Dentistry, passed away in late 2020. Considered the father of dentistry at Western, he is being remembered for his life-long commitment to the dental profession and the communities in which he lived.
He served as Dean for more than 17 years and his leadership led to the growth and success of the faculty, and instilled an ongoing tradition of exceptional mentorship, community and enterprise at the School.
Throughout the course of his career, Dunn was involved in a number of roles in the Canadian and Ontario Dental Association and the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, influencing education and practice across the country. Putting his community first, he also sat on the board of directors for a number of local organizations including United Community Services, the London YWCA/YMCA and the Children’s Health Foundation.
“As the first Dean of Dentistry, Dr. Dunn’s impact as a leader is immeasurable. He was an exceptional clinician and mentor,” said Dr. John Yoo, Dean, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.
Two medical education giants receive Order of Canada
Drs. Carol Herbert and Vivian McAlister received the Order of Canada, considered Canada’s highest honour. Herbert, who served as Dean for the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry from 1999 to 2010, was recognized for her contributions to clinical and academic medicine.
McAlister, who is a general surgeon with special interests in hepatobiliary, endobiliary, transplant and combat surgery, was recognized for his influence and leadership within both the military and civilian surgical communities, as well as his achievements as a clinician, researcher and educator.
Schulich Dentistry reinvented the structure and model of its clinical education program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the seamless integration of the four-handed clinic model adopted in the fall of 2019, enhanced faculty ratios, adjusted clinic volumes and a new patient screening process.
Because of these changes, third- and fourth-year students were able to safely continue with their training and in many cases achieve milestones sooner than in past years. It also allowed vulnerable populations seen in the clinics to continue to receive safe and reliable care.
With physician burnout at an all-time high and the continuing demands of the pandemic, the School created and is delivering a new program with the aim of better supporting clinician well-being. The Peers for Peers program, under the leadership of Dr. Andrea Lum, Vice Dean, Clinical Faculty Affairs, provides one-on-one peer support for clinical faculty, emphasizing empathetic listening and shared experience. It is the first program of its kind in Canada based at an academic centre.
Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s national reputation for providing excellence in medical education and training was enriched this year. The School’s Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) fellowship program in the Division of Emergency Medicine received a special accreditation diploma for an Area of Focused Competence (AFC) from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Unique in Canada, MD+ is a new educational initiative within the Doctor of Medicine Program, offering medical students the opportunity to complete another degree or diploma while earning their MD degree.
“MD+ is a student-focused strategic opportunity that we created after listening to our students,” said Dr. John Yoo, Dean, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. “And with it we are giving students an opportunity to pursue a highly individualized approach to their education. MD+ offers students new options to explore interdisciplinary learning that will support their future success.”
Students will be able to explore interests within renowned faculties and institutes including the Ivey Business School and the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. They can further their education in public health, space medicine, business, public administration or music performance; get hands-on, research intensive experience in the basic sciences; pursue an internship in Africa; or dig into the history of medicine to understand its impact on care today.