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Chair's Column:
Transforming Surgery


James Rutka
James Rutka

Many of you will recall that our last major Strategic Plan was performed in 2004, and was entitled “Breaking through the Boundaries”. In this plan led by Richard Reznick, efforts were made to strengthen and renew the faculty, enhance teaching and enrich the student experience, increase academic productivity and impact of research, promote inter-disciplinarity in all academic activities, and explore alternate sources of revenues. I am pleased to say that the majority of goals set at that time have been accomplished. Accordingly, it is now timely and opportune for us to embark on a new strategic planning effort this academic year.

In August 2011, the Executive Committee of the Department of Surgery (James Rutka, Ori Rotstein, Robin Richards, Robin McLeod, Avery Nathens, Ben Alman and David Latter) met to discuss the key issues and challenges facing the Department of Surgery over the next 5 years. This led to a departmental survey of faculty, residents and fellows in September 2011 to determine all critical elements that should be part of the strategic planning process. I am pleased to report that there were over 150 respondents to the survey from across all of our institutions. Respondents selected our areas of greatest need to be post-graduate medical education, undergraduate medical education, best surgical practices/quality, surgical innovation and simulation, and faculty development. Faculty mentoring and the potential of a competitive pension plan were also considered to be important issues to address. When asked what the single most important issue is facing the Department of Surgery, the following responses received multiple hits: Jobs for graduating residents; integration of academic activities across all institutions; support of surgical research; surgical innovation; international surgery; recruitments, retentions, and retirements; and fundraising or advancement.

These survey responses have helped us focus our attention on 5 major themes going forward: 1) Education; 2) Faculty Development; 3) Best Practices/Quality; 4) Research; and 5) Integration. Cutting across all themes will be advancement, innovation, and our social responsibility as surgeons.

The timing of our Strategic Planning initiative is perfect, as we can harmonize our efforts with the recently developed and publicized Faculty of Medicine strategic plan (http://www.facmed.utoronto.ca/Assets/ FacMed+Digital+Assets/Leadership/Strategic+Academic +Plan+2011-2016.pdf). In this plan, integration, innovation, impact, and social responsibility are the key goals to be achieved over the next 5 years. It is clear that these goals resonate precisely with what ours will be and should be as we move forward.

In October 2011, a Strategic Planning Steering Committee was formed to execute the workplans behind each of the 5 major themes (See Table I). Leads were identified for each of the five working groups, and membership was identified for each working group from across all institutions in the fully affiliated and community affiliated hospitals. In discussion at the October 13th, 2011 meeting of the Steering Committee, there were several areas that were identified that require attention and focus. Among these are: Undergraduate medical education, job preparation for graduating residents, surgical simulation, international surgery, the surgeonscientist, harmonization of research ethics boards across the campus, faculty mentoring, career transitioning, best practices/quality delivery of surgical services, and university versus hospital institutional dynamics.

I am pleased to inform you that we have retained Helena Axler as our Strategic Plan facilitator. Helena helped us with our 2004 Strategic Plan, and knows the Department well. The working groups for this strategic plan have met frequently in preparation for the Strategic Planning retreat to be held on Friday January 27th, 2012, at the University Club. At the retreat, invited guest speakers include Robert Bell, President and CEO, University Health Network; Robert Di Raddo, Scientific Lead, NeuroTouch simulation project, National Research Council of Canada; Dean Catharine Whiteside; Vice-Dean Jay Rosenfield; and Kevin Imrie, Lead, Pan Canadian Duty Hours initiative, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Following the Strategic Planning Retreat January 27th, the Steering Committee will be meeting on several more occasions to amalgamate the information from the retreat, and to synthesize the final plan to be made public in the spring of 2012.

I look forward to working with all of you on our new Strategic Plan. This plan will provide the blueprint of our future directions in the Department as we transform surgery beyond the cutting edge over the next 5 years.

James Rutka


Table I:
Strategic Planning Steering Committee Members:

James Rutka, R S McLaughlin Professor and Chair, Surgery

Robin Richards, Vice-Chair Clinical, Surgeon-in-Chief (SHSC)

Ori Rotstein, Associate Chair, Surgeon-in-Chief (SMH)

Robin McLeod, Vice-Chair Quality

Ben Alman, Vice-Chair Research, Division Chair Orthopedics

Avery Nathens, Chair Departmental Appointments Committee

David Latter, Vice-Chair Education, Division Head Cardiac Surgery (SMH)

Bryce Taylor, Professor, General Surgery

Dimitri Anastakis, Professor and Chair, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Carol Swallow, Division Head, General Surgery (Mt Sinai)

Cindi Morshead, Division Head (Anatomy

Ron Levine, Director PostGraduate Medical Educatio

George Christakis, Director UnderGraduate Medical Education

Andras Kapus, Associate Chair Research

Lakho Sandhu, Resident, General Surgery

Norman Hill, Vice President, Medical and Academic Affairs, Trillium

Darina Landa, Senior Development Officer Surgery

Andy Williams, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, J&J

Nancy Condo, Business Officer (Surgery)

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