International ASPIRE award presented to U of S College of Medicine

SASKATOON – The College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan has been recognized internationally through the 2018 ASPIRE-to-Excellence Award in Social Accountability at the 2018 Association for Medical Education in Europe conference, in Basel, Switzerland.

“This award provides incredibly significant and valuable feedback on the great work our college is doing across education, research and community engagement to address the most important health concerns of our province,” said Dr. Preston Smith, dean of the College of Medicine. “It tells us that our efforts to engage and support Indigenous and under-served communities, with our partners in government, education, research and health care, are on track.” 
Presented by ASPIRE, the International Recognition of Excellence in Education, which is supported by the International Association for Medical Education, the award is reserved for the medical school that demonstrates deliberate and sustained efforts to integrate social accountability into all functions and shows international leadership.
Among the college’s significant social accountability achievements of the past year was the implementation of the new Diversity and Social Accountability Admissions Program (DSAAP), which, beginning with the new first-year class of 2018-19, reserves six of the 100 seats in the medical doctor degree program for individuals from socioeconomically challenged backgrounds. The college continues to be a leader in Canada in Indigenous admissions, with 12 self-declared Indigenous students among the 100 incoming first-year students for 2018-19. 
Over the past year, the college’s Division of Social Accountability (DSA), which facilitates social accountability across all college departments, launched a poverty simulation workshop that was delivered for the first time in 2018 to first-year medical students in collaboration with the United Way of Saskatoon. As well, the DSA coordinates and studies student involvement in work with community-based organizations and initiatives, including the Saskatoon Refugee Health Collaborative, YXE connects and the Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership. This work, while helping support our communities, also trains our future physicians to be knowledgeable about and able to respond to the priority health needs of Saskatchewan communities and the social determinants of health—thebroad range of personal, social, economic and environmental factors that determine individual and population health. 
Through the DSA, the college continues to offer it’s Making the Links - Certificate in Global Health program, which annually accepts up to 15 students for advanced training in socially accountable care provision. Training in this program relies on strong community partnerships and involves students working in the urban core of Saskatoon or Regina, as well as a six-week placement in one of four rural Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan, and an advanced six-week practicum in Indigenous health or health of underserved international populations. Graduates of this program are more likely to stay in Saskatchewan, train in primary care, and work in rural areas. 
In addition, the DSA co-ordinates global health initiatives, including the global health travel awards that provide support for students, faculty and staff to participate in experiences related to global health advocacy and research abroad. The DSA also assists students in organizing an annual Global Health conference, a multi-disciplinary event that raises awareness about pressing global health issues.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Kate Blau
Communications Specialist
College of Medicine
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