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Managing Progress in the Strategic Plan

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Joanna Giddens

The strategic plan of the Department of Surgery was created by a planning committee of interested volunteers in the fall in 2012. It is being realized by a group of team leaders working with project manager Joanna Giddens, a recently recruited member of the Department of Surgery staff.

The leadership team of the Strategic Plan included David Latter - education, Ben Alman - research, Shaf Keshavjee- innovation, Robin McLeod- quality improvement, Ori Rotstein - faculty development, and Avery Nathens- integration of international surgery. I will touch on a few of these pillars of the plan in this article and return to some of the others in subsequent issues. The plan is available on our website at http://surgery.utoronto.ca/about/strategic-plan.htm.

The faculty development pillar led by Ori Rotstein will focus on the use of mentorship for faculty development. It will include assessing stress levels of faculty members, using a special SF36 designed for academic surgery (Link to qualitymetric.com). The survey asks interesting questions, such as: How do you feel about surgical errors, about the stress of your work, about life outside of your job? The Maslach inventory to evaluate stress and burnout will also be included. The survey will be targeted at all members of the faculty. Nancy Condo will assist in this component of the program. The intention is to provide a transparent path to career goals with clear criteria for promotion. By one year, the team will have completed orientation sessions, job descriptions, and a survey of problem areas.

The innovation pillar developed by Shaf Keshavjee will be described in a later issue. Shaf will do what he has done in his own career, teaching faculty members how to take laboratory advances to a level that has an impact on the world.

The quality pillar, headed by Robin McLeod will build on the progress reported in a previous issue (See Surgical Spotlight Fall 2011).

The research pillar will be headed by the new Vice- Chair for Research, when recruited. Integration of international surgery will be led by Avery Nathens. Our current international program is wide-ranging with many disparate components in many countries. Andrew Howard, Mark Bernstein, George Azzie, and others have led these admirably in the absence of a core academic program and infrastructure. In the future, the academic track in international surgery will include mentors, teachers, courses, and a website focused on global surgery. The education pillar headed by David Latter will develop the competency based curriculum beyond orthopaedic surgery (See Surgical Spotlight Summer 2010) and focus on bringing all of our simulation resources into a unified program. More tech- savvy educational methods will be introduced, including smart phone apps, more practice time for students and residents in the Skills Lab, and home exercises to expand their experience. Lisa Satterthwaite will be an important leader along with Oleg Safir. Currently, students can’t get the amount of lab time that they want to develop their skills. Joanna is working with Darina Landa and others on this project. “We are now in the apps and website phase.” She will also work with information technology expert James Wilson from Discovery Commons.

Joanna completed her undergraduate degree at Queen’s University and an MBA at Cook University in Brisbane, Australia. She earned a certificate in Project Management which provided excellent background for her current role in our Department. The elements of project management include gap analysis, the develop development of realistic resources, the use of logic, and monitored progression to accomplish a goal. She is constantly using Excel programs, contact lists, spreadsheets, and deadline checks to keep the project moving. “The most fun of the project is meeting the various surgeons.”

Joanna lives with her parents in Richmond Hill, is active in gymnastics and dance, and is an avid reader of science fiction, historical fiction, and biography - recently including the biography of Warren Buffet. She brings a high level of enthusiasm and energy to this important phase of our department’s growth.

The overall theme of the Strategic Plan will be taking an already well-recognized department up to an even higher lever, nurturing the faculty and attracting the best and brightest recruits. “If more tech is wanted, or if more overseas experience is appropriate, the plan is to provide what the faculty and students need.” In Joanna’s view, the Department is moving, the leads are meeting, and the changes in how we learn are already underway in the classroom and in the laboratory.


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