U of S College of Medicine takes significant step toward solving accreditation problems

The University of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association (USFA) have signed a Letter of Understanding, offering incentives to the College of Medicine's physician faculty to engage in individual contracts for clinical and academic work. This step will help clear the path toward accreditation for the province's only medical school.

"This is a major step forward in the transformation of the college and realizing our ultimate goal—a one faculty model that recognizes physicians equally for their academic work and clinical service," said Dr. Preston Smith, dean of the College of Medicine. "This will allow us to increase the number of physician educators and researchers in Saskatchewan and brings us in line with the top medical schools in Canada."

The Letter of Understanding outlines a voluntary package that is being offered to approximately 125 physicians who are in-scope of the university's faculty association. The offer—individual payouts ranging from $350,000 to $450,000 depending on years of service—is time-limited, with changes expected to be in place by June 2016. The anticipated cost is $20-25 million based on an estimate of 50 physicians opting for a package.

This change, Smith continued, addresses the issue of some faculty physicians having teaching and research obligations, but because of clinical workloads, were unable to find time to do so.

"Our physician faculty have made valuable contributions to the college and will continue to do so, with some of them in different arrangements within our new system," said Smith. "We are offering attractive and flexible options that allow each person to work with the college and the health regions in the way that best fits his or her individual career interests."

One option is a new Provincial Academic Clinical Funding Plan (P-ACFP), which has been developed in partnership with the province, university and the health regions. The P-ACFP is a model designed to address the accreditors' concerns related to accountability for teaching and research. The P-ACFP will allow physicians with academic ambitions to pursue that work in Saskatchewan without sacrificing potential income. The new system allows for far more physicians across the province to engage in academic work.

Smith said funding for the agreement will come from resources that have been set aside for the transformation of the College of Medicine and that no additional government funding will be required.

Details of the Letter of Understanding are available online. See dean Preston Smith's blog for more on the One Faculty model.

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