Department head monthly address

Every month Dr. Kath Stringer provides a departmental address which touches on current topics in family medicine, upcoming events, highlights one of our 10 sites, and provides an update on each of the portfolios (Undergrad, Post-Grad, Faculty Development and Research). You can read past issues here:

March 2024

Dear Staff, Faculty, and Residents,

I do hope you are all enjoying the early the signs of Spring, even if only a few welcome snow drops to help us through rain, drizzle and fog! As always, I am pleased to share some updates and achievements from the DFM.

Firstly, I am delighted to report that thanks to a lot of work from all involved in Family Medicine over the past few years, Dalhousie achieved a 48% match to Family Medicine nationally after the first iteration of the CaRMS match.

As the Family Medicine Specialty Committee's target is 50%, it is wonderful to see the progress we are making. We look forward to the second iteration of the match to fill all our Dal family medicine residency positions and welcome even more talented physicians to the region.

Our residency program is always expanding and July will see additional seats filled in NB and PEI. The expansion of medical education in Nova Scotia is moving into the active planning stages for both UG, and PG, and we are connecting with our partners to ensure a collaborative approach in preparation for LICs in 2027 and ongoing FM residency expansion.

On the funding front, the AFP department is working with the Nova Scotia government to develop a new payment model that will closely align with our community colleagues as part of the LFM model.

Strategic Planning Update 
Lastly, our 2024-2029 strategic plan is nearing completion, marking an important milestone for the Department. We are transitioning into the action planning stage for each strategic direction.

The plans will initially focus on the first year of the strategic plan (2024/25) and will be revisited annually to ensure alignment with strategic goals.

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the recent Strategic Planning survey, and provided your thoughtful feedback on our vision, mission and strategic directions. It is exciting to see a comprehensive plan taking shape with contributions from learners, faculty, staff, and partners alike.

As always, I want to extend my gratitude to all of you for your dedication and contributions to the Department. Together we are driving excellence in Family Medicine through socially accountable and connected communities of education, research, and other scholarly activities

Dr. Kath Stringer, Department Head

January 2024

Family Medicine Specialty Committee
The Family Medicine Specialty Committee, which has replaced the Family Medicine project charter, was recently established to highlight the importance and respect of the specialty of Family Medicine within the Medical School.

As the DFM Dept Head, I chair this committee as we work toward its five-year goals (2023-2028) of:

1. Increased interest in and respect for the specialty of family medicine throughout the FoM
2. A maintained target of 50% CaRMS match rate in Family Medicine.
3. Increased involvement of Family Physicians in teaching and leadership of UGME
Patient Medical Home Symposium
Along the same lines of supporting the continuum of family medicine education in community, it was wonderful to see so many of our preceptors at the Patient Medical Home Symposium in Halifax.

The Symposium focused on Primary Care Renewal in Atlantic Canada and I was very pleased that the importance of medical education was highlighted both in a plenary presentation and workshop thereafter.

In the presentation, I focussed on the importance of developing integrated educational and clinical patient medical home systems to operationalize primary care renewal.  An integrated approach is essential to prepare and support our learners to begin practicing as family physicians at the top of their scope of practice in an interprofessional team. 

These teams also provide the opportunity to develop our new providers in family medicine, and other healthcare professions,  as teachers in the same well-supported community-based clinical learning environments they were training in —ensuring both clinical and educational sustainability.

Strategic Planning Update 
The DFM continues to work through the development of its 2024-2029 strategic plan. We are on draft two of the strategic plan framework, which presents the Department of Family Medicine’s vision, mission, and four updated strategic directions:

  • Education
  • Research and Other Scholarly Activity
  • Social Accountability
  • Our People and Partners

Each direction outlines goals, objectives, and associated high-level actions, developed through consultations including focus groups, surveys, and key informant interviews. The draft framework, reviewed by the Strategic Plan Working Group, will undergo further validation by department members in February to March 2024, with the final plan expected in May 2024. Following its completion, detailed action plans will be developed with specific tasks, timelines, accountabilities, and indicators of success for each strategic direction.

Dr. Kath Stringer, Department Head

October 2023

Well, we have certainly had a busy start to the academic year and there is so much going on across the department!  Thank you to each one of  you as I know you are each working hard in your respective areas.

Between new publications, site visits, seat expansion, residency extension, conferences, and awards ceremonies etc  there is no shortage of activity. I recently had the pleasure of seeing some of you face-to-face during our first NS site visit this year together with the Faculty of Medicine – next site visit to NS and PEI coming up this month and then it is off to NB in early December. 

As I hope I have said before and will continue to say….thank you so much for making the effort to connect with us on these, they are so incredibly valuable to the DFM and FoM team and I do hope they are valuable to you too.  If not, or even if they are,  please let us know how we can make them more so.

Thank you for your unwavering dedication to family medicine. I hope we can continue to make meaningful strides toward a brighter and more inclusive healthcare landscape in the Maritimes.
Warm regards,
Dr. Kath Stringer, Department Head

August 2023

Hello All,

I hope your summer has been enjoyable, ideally including some time to relax with family and friends allowing you to feel reinvigorated for the coming year.  
As we begin another new academic year, the DFM has a number of ongoing and upcoming projects and initiatives on the go.
Firstly, I would like to thank those of you who have taken on new or additional residents, and hope that it is going well. The ongoing expansion of our residency program is a journey that demands collective effort, and we want to make sure that your contributions are acknowledged. Should you require any information or support during this transformative period, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and other leaders in the department.
In 2023 we wrapped up our last five-year strategic plan. In alignment with the Faculty of Medine’s strategic plan, the DFM is now embarking on renewing its own.
The last strategic plan covered 2018-2023 with the successful implementation of an impressive amount of the goals and objectives including highlighting the importance of FM in both undergraduate and postgraduate curricula; the importance of FM research and how it can inform changes in healthcare delivery; and engaging numerous partners as we focussed on serving our wide array of communities across the Maritimes.
The development of the last strategic plan included a collaborative and participatory process that involved internal staff and faculty as well as external partners guided by a Strategic Plan Working Group (SPWG). It is now time for the department to renew our previous strategic plan and update our goals, objectives, and priorities for the next five years (2024-2029).
Over the next few months, we will once again be seeking your input, advice, and feedback to gain a full understanding of where our focus should be.

Your input is important. We will keep you updated with the status of the strategic plan development over the next year and look forward to your meaningful contributions.
Through all the changes and initiatives, we must continue to focus on educating learners, training residents who are capable, confident, and adaptable to provide care in a team-based environment, and ensuring our research guides further decisions to improve the health care of Maritimers. 

Please accept my sincere thanks for your efforts to make this all possible.

Dr. Kath Stringer, Department Head

June 2023

Dear department members,

I hope this newsletter finds you all in good health and high spirits as we enter the summer months. I'm happy to share with you some important updates and highlights from recent events.

7th Annual Family Medicine Conference (FMC):
The 7th Annual Family Medicine Conference (FMC) took place on Friday, June 9th, in the beautiful city of Charlottetown, PEI. The successful conference brought together many of our distributed faculty for a day of networking, knowledge sharing, and professional development— thank you so much, I always enjoy getting to meet you all in person!

Triprovincial Stakeholder Engagement Session:
On June 19th, we held our first triprovincial stakeholder engagement session to discuss the National Renewal of Family Medicine Curriculum and Extension of Training Length. This was the first of many sessions that will be taking place with various stakeholders, including yourselves as we move through this transition together. Stay tuned for an invite coming your way!

As we know, the current curriculum is full. This should come as no surprise - Canada has the broadest scope and shortest training in the world. All DFMs are leading planning efforts to renew our curricula to ensure the current gaps are addressed and our graduates are ready to provide the broad scope of care that is needed to support our communities. At Dalhousie, we want to be innovative and strive for excellence in order to be competitive on a national level for the start in 2027.

We are working closely with CFPC, provincial governments and others to provide the balance of national and Maritime direction to ensure our local communities benefit from this. Ultimately better prepared graduates will be more able to adjust to what we are all experiencing - the changing role of family physicians in the health care system.

Wildfire Impact:
While it has been a few weeks since the wildfires in NS began to subside, we want to acknowledge the profound and lasting impact they have had on the lives of individuals and families who were forced to evacuate their homes. Our hearts go out to all those affected. As a compassionate and supportive community, let us continue to offer our assistance and support to those in need.

Thank you for your dedication and contributions to our department's success. Please be kind to yourselves as we all support each other to find some time to relax this summer. If you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Warm regards,
Dr. Kath Stringer, Department Head

May 2023 - World Family Doctor Day

May 19th marks the celebration of World Family Doctor Day, and I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude for the exceptional work you do in the field of family medicine. As the Head of the Dalhousie Family Medicine Department, I am honored to acknowledge the central role you play in the delivery of personal, comprehensive, and continuing health care to all patients. 

This day serves as a reminder of the progress being made in family medicine and the invaluable contributions of primary care teams to our beloved Maritime communities. Your dedication and commitment to advancing the discipline of family medicine through research, education, and exemplary patient care are truly commendable.

We recognize that the role of the family doctor is evolving in response to changing times. While change can be challenging, it also brings with it opportunities for us to continue to embrace collaborative models of care. I encourage our teams to seize these opportunities, promote innovative methods of delivering primary care, and strive for continuous improvement in patient care and attachment. 

World Family Doctor Day is a significant occasion that highlights the vital role and contribution of family doctors and primary care teams in healthcare systems. On this special day, let us honor and appreciate the tireless efforts of family doctors and primary care teams in improving healthcare outcomes and creating healthier communities. Your unwavering commitment and compassion make a significant difference in the lives of countless individuals.

Thank you family doctors; you are the heart of healthcare. 

Dr. Kath Stringer, Department HeadDr. Kath Stringer, department head

February 2023 - Season of Transition

Happy February to all, I hope everyone is enjoying the slow shift towards longer, brighter days. This is my first newsletter since December, as the DFM has shifted to a bi-monthly newsletter.

Looking  to the year and years ahead, as many of you are aware, several current and upcoming changes are occurring in the department. Notably, from a staffing perspective, our own Cathy Charles, Chief Operating Officer, will be retiring in June. I am happy to share that John Campbell will join the department as the new COO as of March 6. Cathy and John will work together over a four-month period to ensure a smooth transition of duties. Please read Cathy's announcement for more information about John's experience coming into the role and operations between March and June.

I am also delighted to announce that we have successfully appointed two new Site Directors. In PEI Dr. Padraig Casey, has recently taken over from Dr. Shannon Curtis and in North Nova Dr. Brad MacDougall will soon be taking over from Dr. Deanna Field.

Please join me in extending our sincere gratitude to Cathy, Shannon and Deanna. You have each brought your own unique, dedicated and valued contribution to the department over the years--you will be missed dearly, but we do hope to continue the connections with you all for many years to come.  

Another longer-term transition underway is the Outcomes of Training Project. The project is a critical reflection on the training of family physicians in dynamically changing times and the training needed for residents to be competent and confident to begin a comprehensive family practice. The final report, including recommendations related to the Outcomes of Training Project can be found here.

Preparing future family physicians will require enhancements to core training focussing on optimizing scope and upskilling in specific areas. Constructs such as capability, confidence, and adaptability are also important to resident preparedness. Changes to our curriculum are therefore going to need to address and reflect these constructs. This is going to take more time; hence the transition to a three-year residency program will begin in 2027. As a Dept of Family Medicine, we have received funding from a Service Canada grant applied for by the CFPC to support initial curriculum planning.

Preparation for this change is occurring in the midst of significant expansion plans for residency training as well as a move to more team-based care across the Maritimes. While there is no doubt that this poses significant challenges, it is also a huge opportunity to finally be recognized for the work that we do and seek appropriate resources to do so. Early interactions with funders and health authorities seem promising with respect to this process.

Amidst all the busyness of life and stressors of our daily work, I do hope you are all experiencing the support and appreciation of your communities, friends, and family, and of course, the Dalhousie Department of Family Medicine. 

Dr. Kath Stringer, department head