A busy, beautiful PEI summer is upon us.

I hope this message finds you well and that you are enjoying this summer’s heat. As we relish the warm weather, we must acknowledge the challenges of high heat and humidity for some. Let’s be hopeful that everyone is safe and well.

With the work pressures many are feeling this summer and other stresses we all manage in our lives and are still working to resolve in healthcare, I urge everyone to take some time with family and friends for some well-deserved downtime.

For myself, this summer back as a resident of PEI, I have been thoroughly enjoying golf, grandkids, hosting friends, and, of course, getting out to sample the Island’s many culinary delights and events. We’ll be off to Saskatoon for a few days to lend a hand to our daughter, who is packing up and joining us here in Prince Edward Island this month. Jane and I look forward to having her close by for Sunday dinners again! Interspersed throughout the summer, I hope to spend time with family, in the garden, and reading on the deck with two dogs at my feet.

Today, I want to take a moment to reflect on how far we have come. Significant progress has been made in various areas.

Firstly, I want to remind everyone that as we work toward a joint medical degree program, Memorial University is opening a regional campus at UPEI to offer a Memorial Doctor of Medicine degree. There are 20 seats available on the UPEI campus for Prince Edward Island residents. After much work, vision and perseverance by many, on June 26th, the application process for the inaugural PEI cohort of medical students who will study on the UPEI campus opened. Coinciding with this significant milestone was an announcement of the Rathlyn Foundation Entrance Scholarships for UPEI Medical Students, which will be granted to every student in their first year of study in the UPEI-based faculty of medicine facilities in perpetuity. These $2,000 individual scholarships will be funded by an overall gift of $1,000,000 from the foundation. Kudos to Development and their team for this exciting news for students.

The University of Prince Edward Island Faculty of Medicine unit recently launched its fund- and friend-raising campaign. With generous gifts from many donors already in, UPEI’s Department of Development & Alumni Engagement & Government Relations is well on its way to the $10-million campaign target, which will support the University’s contribution to the ongoing construction of the $91 million state-of-the-art building on the UPEI campus.

The Faculty of Medicine team recently welcomed Dr Joe Gordon, our first Ph.D. faculty hire, to the growing team. Dr Gordon will begin his role as an associate professor of comparative medicine (PhD faculty lead for anatomy laboratory teaching) in September 2025. This faculty position is shared with Biomedical Sciences at AVC  and demonstrates the full intent to work collaboratively across faculties.

Speaking of teamwork, much is being accomplished. In addition to the impressive facility taking shape on the north end of campus, the team has been quite busy in our temporary Belvedere Avenue offices. Chief Operating Officer Paul Young and his team are simply a beehive of activity. Work is underway to plan and source high-tech equipment for one of the country’s most advanced medical clinical learning and simulation centres. Anatomy equipment has started to arrive, and specimens are being sourced. As mentioned, admissions have opened to PEI students attending the regional campus, and the entire academic affairs team has been supporting this process, working on a faculty sourcing plan and preparing for the future joint program. Approximately 30% of the capital cost of the UPEI-based infrastructure will be technology fit-up, such as to support synchronistic classroom learning between the PEI campus and Memorial, so suffice it to say the UPEI ITSS team tasked with making this all happen for fall 2025 is a busy one! There are ongoing plans and discussions concerning community infrastructure and programming to support future learners and lots of conversations with Health PEI around the responsible integration of faculty and learners. As a regional campus of Memorial, there is a requirement to review policies and plans collaboratively and adjust as necessary, as well as to ensure effective governance structures are in place to guide the work of both institutions along the journey. Finally, we have been focused on getting the news on the medical school project out to the public through many means, from traditional and social media to community information sessions.

If you know of any group or organization that wants to hear more, we’d be happy to speak to any group. Just email medicine@upei.ca with any requests.

Feel free to reach out anytime; my door is always open. I hope you have some beautiful plans for enjoying the summer ahead!

Applications are now being accepted for fall 2025!

Hi Everyone,

This week was marked by some tremendous news for PEI students. Just as the Memorial University Faculty of Medicine’s admissions portal opened for all students, UPEI announced that beginning in the fall of 2025, the Rathlyn Foundation Entrance Scholarships for UPEI Medical Students will be granted to every UPEI-based medical student in their first year of study.

These $2,000 individual scholarships will be funded in perpetuity by an overall gift of $1,000,000 from the Rathlyn Foundation. So not only will our Island students gain equitable access through this brilliant partnership with Memorial’s medical school, but they will also receive financial support through this generous university donation.

We are excited and optimistic about welcoming Prince Edward Island’s bright, compassionate, and ethical students to Memorial’s regional campus at UPEI for fall 2025. These students will benefit from the expertise and experience of Memorial’s award-winning curricular framework. The development of the Memorial regional campus at UPEI (and eventual joint medical education program) is a unique journey that all the team at MUN and UPEI are working hard on. Starting out as a regional campus, we provide a Memorial program under Memorial’s accreditation, and PEI students will be registered at Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty of Medicine.  

Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine adheres to the Memorial University policy, recognizing its strength lies with its people. Building and maintaining an excellent workforce depends on creating an environment that attracts, develops, and retains talented and capable people for all positions.

Memorial is committed to:

  • Maintaining a welcoming and favourable work environment for all individuals; Removing workplace barriers that negatively affect individuals or groups.
  • Educating all individuals on the values, elements, and application of this policy
  • Supporting the creation of an equitable and diverse workforce
  • Providing community leadership as a progressive and equitable employer

Memorial University and UPEI strive to practice evidence-based education as well as training our medical students in evidence-based practice. There is ample evidence that patients outcomes are improved when providers that reflect the patients are involved in their care. Therefore, it is imperative that the graduates of the medical program reflect the entire make-up of our diverse population on PEI. 

Memorial’s policy and actions align perfectly with UPEI’s principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and we are fortunate to have such a strong partner to ensure that the accepted students and eventual medical graduates reflect the diverse populations they will serve. 

As always, I would like to remind you that my door is open. To students, faculty, and staff, I am here to support you on this journey, and I am more than happy to take your call or meet with you wherever is convenient for you. Your success is our success, and we are here to help you every step of the way.

Benefits of Partnership and the Road Ahead

Hi Everyone,

I just spent a week on location at the Toronto Metropolitan University’s (TMU’s) Faculty of Medicine as a chair of the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) preliminary accreditation site visit team. What a great opportunity to participate as a member of the accreditation committee for a new Canadian medical school – lots of learnings for our continued journey in PEI.

So today, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the road ahead, accreditation requirements, and key partnerships.

The development of the Memorial regional campus at UPEI (and eventual joint medical education program) is a unique journey that all the team at UPEI are proud to be part of. I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to the development of regional campuses in the past, having been very involved in the launch of Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick as well as managing a regional campus at USASK for ten years and over the years, visiting or accrediting seven other regional campuses in Canada. We must be absolutely clear that as a regional campus, we are providing a Memorial program under Memorial’s accreditation, and our students will be registered at Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty of Medicine. 

The subsequent transition to an accredited joint program with Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine is a groundbreaking initiative in Canada. We’re still navigating the intricacies of this project with our experienced Memorial partners, UPEI leadership, government, and the PEI medical community. I can’t wait to see its impact on our medical education landscape.

In the spirit of this partnership, Memorial University is launching a regional campus on PEI to offer its Doctor of Medicine degree in the fall of 2025. This will allow PEI residents more equitable access sooner and transfer much-needed seats back to Memorial for residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. Since the early 2000s, several medical schools have successfully launched regional campuses, with many more currently in development. We are fortunate that Memorial is expanding its regional campus offering to PEI to ensure no Canadian jurisdiction is left behind. 

As a regional campus of Memorial, we are privileged to align with Memorial’s high accreditation standards: same curriculum, same assessment, same student services, and comparable learning experience. This alignment allows PEI residents to access the program much earlier than would have been possible under other circumstances. We are truly fortunate that Memorial has chosen to partner with us in this manner.

The goal over the next two years remains a joint program between Memorial and UPEI, which means we will benefit from both institutions’ shared expertise and experience, and UPEI will continue to benefit from Memorial’s award-winning medical education curriculum but will have the flexibility to tailor aspects to meet PEI’s needs best.

While the flavour of this post is certainly about accreditation and our invaluable partnership with Memorial, my work with the Health PEI senior leadership team and physician engagement continues as well. Many PEI physicians are expressing interest in becoming involved. As we are a regional campus of Memorial, we encourage all physicians who are interested in teaching at Memorial’s regional campus in PEI to apply for a faculty appointment with Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine. This includes physicians who are currently affiliated with Dalhousie; everyone is more than welcome! Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Health PEI’s Medical Affairs Office for assistance with the process, or if you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to medicine@upei.ca or to me directly.

In addition to work life, my wife Jane and I and the dogs have been thoroughly enjoying Island life. From fishing from my backyard to gardening to paring #13 at Stanhope golf course, we are reassured daily that PEI is the right fit for us! We love it here.

As always, my door is open, and I am happy to take your call or meet wherever is convenient for you.

Settling into work and home

Hi Everyone,

Well, it has been a busy first three weeks on the job. Along with the usual work of onboarding, orientation, signing up for Blue Cross and making sure I was on the payroll, I have been diving into the job and have gone to a national meeting.

I am also happy to say at home in Stanhope, the boxes are all gone, the pictures are all hung, you can walk through the garage, the two Springers (Murphy and Lincoln) are getting to know Stanhope with their walks, and most importantly, Jane’s car (and her independence) has arrived.

Health PEI warmly welcomed me in my new role as Chief Academic Officer. I have had a chance to welcome our new CEO, Melanie Fraser, and I certainly appreciate her enthusiastic support for the medical school. I have attended two Executive Leadership Team meetings and appreciate their warm welcome.

I look forward to getting to know the Med Ed team at Health PEI.

At the Faculty of Medicine in our temporary offices on Belvedere Avenue, we are now up to a team of 17 with an approved budget for 2024-2025, allowing that team to grow further to ensure we are ready for August 2025. I have been meeting with the team leaders and reviewing their portfolios, work done to date and next steps. I am highly impressed by the team’s accomplishments, the skills of the team, the effective project planning approach, and the remarkable esprit de corps amongst the team. These people are doing a great job and are having fun doing it! And as you can see on University Avenue, a beautiful building which will have great resources for all UPEI health professions, Health PEI, and all of PEI is taking shape nicely.

Recently, some members of the FoM team and I went to the International Congress on Academic Medicine in Vancouver, the premier Canadian meeting for medical schools and medical education with over 1,250 participants. It was fun being one of the new kids on the block (my friends might find that funny – I mean UPEI), and there was great interest and enthusiasm for what we are doing on PEI.

However, we were certainly not alone, as Canada has seen the most significant expansion in medical and health education since four new medical schools opened at the time of Confederation in 1967. Many new campuses are being planned, and three other universities are starting new medical schools (TMU, SFU, and York). One speaker jokingly said: “Stand up if you are not starting a new campus or medical school. Or, more correctly, stand up if your government hasn’t told you to start a new campus or medical school!” Seriously though, we had great opportunities to network and learn from established medical schools and others like us. Islanders can take pride, as I was convinced we are holding our own and ahead of some in this enormous national effort to contribute to the solution of the massive local and national shortage of healthcare professionals.

Besides the growth of enrollment and programs, the conference’s key themes were indigenous health, equity, diversity, inclusivity, anti-racism, accessibility, interprofessional education, team-based care, simulation-based education, and artificial intelligence. It was a great conference with excellent education and networking.

And Vancouver is a wonderful city when the sun shines, and it did. We had lovely weather and got to see a bit of the city, ocean, and mountains. One of my favourite places in the country to run is the “seawall,” I managed to squeeze that in, as well as a nice restaurant or two.

I am happy to be back home, and the weeks ahead are full! I chair the first accreditation of Toronto Metropolitan University in May and June. I have meetings scheduled with doctors around the province and do my first road trip to Prince County Hospital with some Health PEI colleagues in the next few weeks. And there are a few moving-related jobs left to do, like getting an ID card at two places, getting the cars inspected (I didn’t do that in SK) and registered, and finishing the garage!

My door is open, and I am happy to take your call or meet wherever is convenient for you.

I’m Thrilled To Be Here!

Greetings everyone,

As I step into my role as dean, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the road ahead and why I find myself drawn to this opportunity.

Firstly, it’s wonderful to be back on the Island. My wife Jane, our two dogs Murphy and Lincoln, and I recently made the journey from Saskatoon to Stanhope, and the warmth of your Island welcome hasn’t gone unnoticed. We are thrilled to be here. Thank you for making us feel so at home.

The second is a little about me and why I want to work here. My passion is what medical education and research can do in every community it touches, and your vision here to build a program to help meet the needs of Islanders from tip to tip is ambitious, compelling, and exciting. Returning to the Maritimes to do it is a terrific bonus.

A bit about my background: I’m a DAL Medical School graduate and spent 25 years as a family physician in Moncton. During my tenure as VP of Medicine in New Brunswick, during the transition from that province’s 52 hospitals to eight regions, I gained significant expertise in health system reform and administration. I held the position of Senior Associate Dean of Education within the Faculty of Medicine at DAL and had a leadership role in developing and overseeing the new Dalhousie medical education program, launched in Saint John. I had the privilege to be involved in starting new family medicine residency programs in PEI, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Most recently, when I was Dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, my team and I led a significant restructuring of the College of Medicine. Throughout my career, I have been involved in creating programs from the ground up, change management, and fixing programs that need help. This opportunity to be part of building something new and unique, while partnering with Memorial’s award-winning medical school is an opportunity I am very excited to take on.

Successfully engaging our existing physicians and attracting more physicians to the Island are both critically important to the success of PEI’s medical school and, frankly, the future of the healthcare system. There is no doubt it will be challenging to develop a medical school in a post-pandemic healthcare system that is already strained. UPEI and Health PEI have a duty to proceed with care, so Islanders are well served and to create an environment where physicians want to participate. I am really looking forward to working with the physician community, Health PEI, the university community, and others to bring this to fruition.

As I will often say in closing my blog, my door is open, and I am happy to chat. I look forward to settling in and getting to know each of you better.