Chair's Message

Message from the Chair - June 2018

Full Message

Dear Colleagues,

As we approach the end of the academic year, I want to share with you some of the highlights of the past 12 months for the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) at the University of Toronto.

Our faculty has continued to grow and attract new members. We currently have 1,678 faculty members appointed to the Department of Family and Community Medicine. 114 new faculty members have joined our department since July 1st, 2017. I encourage all our faculty members, and especially our newest members, to take advantage of the many opportunities to get involved in the activities of our department, and to consider applying for leadership roles as these are advertised.

We are very proud that, between 2013 and 2017, 50 of our faculty members have achieved senior promotion at the University of Toronto to associate professor or full professor. 24 of our 50 faculty members attaining senior promotion are women, and 26 are men. While it appears that we are close to achieving gender balance with senior promotion, the majority of our faculty members are women and our promotions team, led by Vice-Chair Dr. David White and Faculty Development Program Director Dr. Viola Antao, is working on ways to improve equity and diversity through encouraging more applications for promotion and through the support we provide.

We currently have 395 residents enrolled with DFCM, with 333 residents enrolled in our two-year family medicine residency program, and 62 residents enrolled in our Enhanced Skills programs. This is one of the largest family medicine residency programs in North America and the world, led by our Residency Program Director, Dr. Stu Murdoch and his team, and the Chiefs of each of our hospital and community-based academic sites. DFCM trains 40% of Ontario’s future family physicians, and this month 180 of our residents will be graduating from our residency program and moving out into family practice across the country.

Each of our DFCM residents completes 13 rotation blocks each academic year, which is a total of 5134 rotation blocks each academic year. Broken down further, within our Greater Toronto Area residency stream, our 351 residents complete 4563 rotations in an academic year, the 36 residents enrolled in our Barrie/Newmarket stream complete a total of 468 rotations, and the eight residents in our dedicated rural stream complete a total of 104 rotations. As well, all together, our residents have experienced approximately 170,000 patient encounters in a family practice setting over the past year. These numbers illustrate the breadth and depth of DFCM’s residency program as our residents experience all that family medicine has to offer.

At the undergraduate level, our faculty this past academic year have provided supervision to 770 first, second and third-year medical students, with an additional 128 students working with our faculty to complete family medicine electives, and 102 students completing our Transition to Residency selectives. These are extraordinary numbers and we thank all our participating faculty members and our Undergraduate Program Director, Dr. Azi Moaveni and her team.

At the graduate studies level, the number of students enrolled in our Master's programs increased from 22 in 2016, to 34 in 2017. Our Graduate Studies team, led by Program Director Dr. Abbas Ghavam-Rassoul, and Associate Program Director Dr. Julia Alleyne, continues to seek new ways to attract more high-quality applicants from across Canada and around the world to our graduate programs.

One highlight of our graduate program this year was having our first DFCM-supervised student, Dr. Teja Voruganti, complete his Ph.D. as part of the University of Toronto combined MD/ Ph.D. Program. I hope he will be the first of many University of Toronto MD students choosing to do a Ph.D. with our faculty.

Our Research and Advocacy program continues to grow. Last year, our DFCM researchers were awarded $13,794,039 in grant funding. The amount of research funding awarded to our faculty members has more than doubled over the past four years. Our faculty members are also attracting more large grants than ever before, including $1 million in funding to each of Dr. Michelle Griever and Dr. Andrew Pinto, and their teams, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Primary and Integrated Health Care Network. These highly competitive grants reflect the dedication and skills of our researchers, the growing influence of our large Practice-Based Research Network, UTOPIAN, and the leadership of our Vice-Chair of Research and Advocacy, Dr. Eva Grunfeld and her team.

Our Education Scholarship Program, led by Dr. Risa Freeman and her team, has also seen increasing success this year with Dr. Carrie Bernard and Dr. Mahan Kulasegaram receiving funding from the Physicians Services Incorporated (PSI) Foundation for the development of a new ethics curriculum that aims to better prepare doctors to apply ethical principles when seeing patients in clinical settings.

This year we are launching our new DFCM Integrated Three Year Family Medicine Residency Program (I3P) which incorporates leadership training. The program is led by our DFCM Deputy Chair, Dr. David Tannenbaum, and allows family medicine residents enrolled in the program to gain leadership skills and develop competencies in comprehensive family medicine while earning a Masters degree. This new program is being seen as a significant step in meeting the future leadership needs of primary care across Ontario and Canada.

Our DFCM Global Health and Social Accountability Program, led by Dr. Katherine Rouleau and her team, is strengthening partnerships and creating new ones in our work to support improvements in the health of vulnerable people in Canada and around the world. Our Toronto International Program this year provided experience in Canadian family medicine to participants from around the world, included colleagues from Ethiopia, Japan, Kuwait, Syria and Georgia. This year we have also hosted 30 interprofessional learners from primary care centres across Chile as part of the Chilean Interprofessional Program in Primary Care and Family Health. And we have had successful groups of visitors from across China, and from other parts of the world, keen to learn about Canadian family medicine and our training of family physicians. These and our many other partnerships, including our world-leading partnership with the University of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, are crucial to spreading the values, knowledge and skills of family medicine across the globe.

We also continue to strengthen our work in supporting the health and well-being of Indigenous people across Canada. Working with faculty member, Dr. Janet Smylie, we have set the goal of creating a culturally safe environment within our department, as well as supporting the development of indigenous leadership within our department, and ensuring that Indigenous medical graduates see the University of Toronto as the place to come for family medicine residency training. We begin our DFCM meetings by formally acknowledging the traditional owners of the land and waters where we hold our meetings, and we are encouraging all our faculty and residents to improve their own awareness of Indigenous-specific health concerns, both for urban populations and for people living in rural and remote areas. There is still much more to do and we will continue working with our faculty members on ways DFCM can contribute to supporting improvements in health outcomes for Indigenous people.

DFCM has hosted two major conferences so far this year: Our annual DFCM Conference and Walter Rosser Day, and our inaugural Toronto International Conference on Quality in Family Medicine. Both events were well attended and garnered excellent reviews. My thanks to our dedicated DFCM staff, led by Ms. Caroline Turenko, on the success of these events, and of the many smaller events held throughout the year. We look forward to building on the feedback provided by participants as we prepare for DFCM’s 50th anniversary in 2019.

Our world-leading Quality Improvement and Innovation work continues to impact the quality of care delivery in family practice across Toronto and Ontario, and around the world. In June, our Vice-Chair for Quality and Innovation, Dr. Phil Ellison, will retire and we thank Phil for his extraordinary leadership and his commitment to DFCM over many years.

There are many other facets to the work of DFCM. We run one of North America’s largest and most successful training programs for Physician Assistants, led by Dr. Maureen Gottesman and her team, in partnership with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the Michener Institute. We have active divisions supporting our faculty with special interests in Emergency Medicine and Palliative Care, led by Dr. Eric Letovsky, and Dr. Jeff Myers. And we have many individual faculty members who represent DFCM in supporting improvements in clinical care, in education and training and continuing professional development, and in research, covering the breadth of family medicine.

Thank you to all of our faculty, our Chiefs, our residents, our students, our staff and our many partners who have worked so hard over the past year to make these achievements – and many, many more – possible. You all contribute to making this an extraordinary academic department.

I look forward to our work together to further increase the impact of our Department over the year ahead.

Michael Kidd
Professor and Chair
Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto

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