Major changes coming to U of S College of Medicine

University of Saskatchewan plans to replace faculty who are doing very little teaching with specialists who are focused on teaching and research.

University plans to cut faculty in half

If senior officials at the University of Saskatchewan have their way, the College of Medicine won't be on probation for long.

The college was placed on probation because of deficiencies with its research and teaching programs.

Brett Fairbairn is vice-president of academics at the University of Saskatchewan.  

He said in the past the College of Medicine was used as a recruitment tool to attract specialists to Saskatoon.  The specialists were given full time academic positions to help supplement their income.  However, many did little or no teaching or research, he said.

Fairbairn said that practise has ended. He said the university has a plan to cut the number of faculty in half, from the current 230 to 135. That will be done through attrition, early retirement and a plan being worked out with the faculty association, he said.

 "We should be a leader in rural and remote and aboriginal health," he said. " We should be a leader in neurology and ms and fields like that, that are important to Saskatchewan."

Dr. George Pylypchuk is vice-president of practitioner staff affairs with the Saskatoon Health Region.  He said he's not worried about attracting specialists to Saskatoon under the new system.

He said the health region is using a new recruitment tool, called individual service contracts.  Under these contracts specialists  would be guaranteed a salary, rather than billing on a fee for service basis.

"The recent attraction of Ivar Mendez from Dalhousie to Saskatoon is an example of that. He is someone who is a real presence in his field," he said.  "Expensive to bring people like that here. We do a certain number of those on the resources we have. But likely in the longer term to have 20 or so of those researchers in the college will require some additional funding."

 Ivar Mendez is a world renowned neurosurgeon and one of the founders of the Brain Repair Centre in Halifax.

"I think now with the recent Globe and Mail article showing the physician perhaps oversupply in some specialties," said Pylypchuk. " I think we are going to see more people being interested in coming to the province and the region.  In fact, we are seeing that now.  We have been recruiting quite a few new physicians to this region."

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