Dear Colleagues,As you are aware, as of August 31, I will complete my second six-year term as Dean of the UBC Faculty of Medicine. I am incredibly privileged to have served in this role, and to work with faculty, staff and students to contribute to the health of the population that we serve through research, education and service. As I make way for my successor, Dr. Dermot Kelleher, I would like to offer a few thoughts and sentiments that … in these final days of my term.Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to so many, starting with the many British Columbians for whom we have provided care, and who have also allowed us to learn from them – by participating in our educational programs, by welcoming the presence of students or trainees while being examined or treated, or by participating in research. Ultimately, we serve the people of British Columbia, and it is a privilege for all of us — as students, teachers and researchers — to be engaged in this process.I would also like to thank our faculty members and staff, who have worked tirelessly to contribute to the mission and vision of the Faculty of Medicine across all of our programs. I consider myself very fortunate to have worked with such an incredibly talented and committed group of people, whose accomplishments have been recognized across Canada and the world.
In addition, I want to thank all of our learners for enabling our ground-breaking success in moving beyond a big-city model of health education. This innovation has taken several forms – distributed campuses in Prince George, Victoria and Kelowna, a cohort of physical therapy students in the North, an Island-based cohort of midwifery students, as well as our many graduate students engaged across the province.
I would also like to acknowledge the many others who have contributed to the enterprise that we refer to as the Faculty of Medicine – alumni, donors, our many partners in the health authorities, other universities, as well as the strong support that we have enjoyed from our provincial government.
Secondly, I would like to encourage all of you to celebrate the milestone of the transition to a new dean, and recognize our incredible accomplishments to date. Such a milestone is an opportunity to reflect upon what we have accomplished together. We have the most successful fully-distributed model of undergraduate medical education in North America; have replicated that feat in post-graduate medical education; and are now building upon the distributed platform with our health professions programs. When I arrived a dozen years ago, many persons believed that such a model was fatally flawed, and I am proud and delighted that we have proven the naysayers wrong. I should note that much of this success stems from the commitment of our full-time university faculty and our clinical faculty across the province, now approaching 7,500 individuals, upon whom we depend to provide crucial hands-on teaching. This is an awesome feat, and reflects what we can do by working collaboratively.
At the same time, our research endeavors – much of it unfolding through our health authority research institutes – has continued to grow despite a challenging funding environment. We have also been able to create new and innovative frameworks to advance our mission: the Life Sciences Centre, which opened its doors in 2004; the School of Population and Public Health, which officially opened in 2008; the Centre for Heath Education Scholarship, which came along two years later; the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, which opened in 2013; and the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health, which was established last year. These and other frameworks have one core element in common–they allow us to better address society’s health needs. Let’s not miss the chance to celebrate what you have all individually and collectively achieved.
Notwithstanding the many accomplishments within the Faculty of Medicine, there remains much to be done. I know that many of you have had an opportunity to meet my successor, Dr. Kelleher, in Prince George, Kelowna and Vancouver, and I know he is looking forward to visiting Vancouver Island, as well as our many partner research institutes and centres, in the weeks ahead. I believe his arrival positions us well for the future. But one of my biggest fears is complacency. Our research success cannot continue unless we remain innovative, and open to new constructs, ideas and strategies. Our educational programs cannot remain successful unless they continuously adapt to the needs of the people and the health system that serves them. What worked five years ago must be challenged, and may not work tomorrow. Often, financial pressures are the driving forces for such changes; but please bear in mind that sometimes those changes turn out to be the right move on many other levels — in hindsight, we view them as “innovations.”
Finally, I will not be leaving UBC, but rather, I am very privileged to have been appointed to a second term as Vice Provost Health for the University of British Columbia. I look forward to contributing further in this role and continuing to work with faculty, staff and learners across our university in the domain of health. Any sadness that I might justifiably feel as my term comes to an end is allayed by the fact that I will continue to serve the university in my role as Vice Provost Health, allowing me to maintain many of the relationships that I have come to cherish over the past dozen years.
Gavin C.E. Stuart, MD, FRCSC
Dean, Faculty of Medicine
Vice Provost Health, UBC