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Faculty reflection by Gerry Cooper, associate dean

Dear Friends,

Earlier this month I had the good fortune to attend the annual business meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group on Regional Medical Campuses (GRMC) in Baltimore, Maryland. This group was formed in 2002 and “provides a forum to explore and promote common interests of regional campuses of medical schools”. More details about the GRMC are available online here.

There are roughly 55 medical schools in North America who have a regional medical campus (RMC); in total, there are some 111 RMC’s across the continent (Canada - 15; United States - 96). Unlike Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s Windsor Program, most do not offer the full range of pre-clinical and clinical training. Even this comment though requires some explanation because such categorization is often difficult to determine (see for example: Cheifetz, C.E. (2014) Regional Medical Campuses: A New Classification System. Academic Medicine 2014 (Aug) 89(8): 1140-3).

The conversation at the meeting got me to reflect quite a bit about what our team at Schulich Medicine (and those who have preceded us) have built over the years in terms of its distributed medical education footprint. Of course our School has a wonderful presence across Southwestern Ontario via our Distributed Education program.

The Windsor campus, while part of the distributed effort, really is a bit unique in that a student can take the majority of their medical training in this community, save for their elective experiences, and proceed to eventually practise medicine here. The fact that our team has built this enterprise within a decade or so is really quite amazing.

This would not have been possible were it not for many factors: the School’s senior leadership to expand its academic programming across Southwestern Ontario; the Ontario government’s forward thinking approach to addressing physician shortages; communities who warmly embraced the notion of physicians training and learning their craft throughout the region; and the exceptional contributions of so many fine medical educators.

In terms of the Windsor Program, we have roughly 350 faculty members and amongst this group, the vast majority are physicians who have active clinical practices. To be sure, they are a very dedicated and talented group.

Just this past week, there were three Windsor Program faculty members who received accolades for their educational acumen: Dr. Wassim Saad and Dr. Dale Ziter were honoured at the University of Windsor’s Celebration of Teaching Excellence Awards on November 18 respectively for their Canadian Association for Medical Education Certificate of Merit Award (2015) and Ontario College of Family Physicians’ Regional Family Physician of the Year Award (2015). The very next day, we learned that Dr. Earle Morgan had received the Distinguished Service Award from the Ontario Association of Gastroenterology. These are the latest recipients in a long line of award-winning faculty members who make Schulich Medicine a great place to study.

Soon Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) students will begin hearing that nominations will be collected for various in-School awards; at the Windsor Program, nominations will be announced within the week. I highly encourage every UME student to give some thought to a faculty and/or staff member who has gone beyond the call of duty to assist you with your learning. Perhaps they did something to especially welcome you at the start of the year, perhaps they spent some extra time explaining a particularly complicated procedure so that you could better understand it, perhaps you simply feel safe knowing they have your back. Whatever the reason, please take the five or ten minutes to give back and say thanks by recognizing their contributions to your medical education in the form of a nomination.

In the end, this is one of the things that makes our School special and why we are attracting attention on the international level. Nominating a faculty or staff member only takes a few minutes, it is free and it can pay so many dividends back to you. More importantly, you help to continue the long tradition of building a strong medical school for the future.

With that, good luck and best wishes,

Gerry Cooper, EdD
Associate Dean, Windsor Program