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Reflections on the First 5 Years

James Rutka
James Rutka

Some of you may know that I have completed my first 5-year term in April. I am very grateful that following a successful external review by Dr. Carlos A. Pellegrini from the University of Washington Seattle, and Dr. John Kortbeek University of Calgary, Dean Trevor Young has now appointed me for the next 5 years.

I want to take this opportunity to reflect on our many successes and achievements these past 5 years. At a glance, we have nearly 250 full time faculty members, 250 residents and 200 clinical fellows. We received approximately $40 - 45 million in annual research funding annually, we have a total of $150 million in terms of endowed chair funding $22 million held in trust funds, and $3 million annually in advancement funding. Over the past 5 years, the Department of Surgery has published over 7,000 peerreviewed manuscripts with an overall citation impact of 1.54. We have 10 Canada Research Chairs, and 63 endowed University Hospital Chairs.

Some of the highlights from these past 5 years include the establishment of the Surgery Exploration and Discovery (SEAD) Course, the creation of a Faculty Development Day, the establishment of the Department of Surgery Prep Camp for all PGY1 residents, the establishment of the Best Practices in Surgery Work Group, writing of the late career transitioning guidelines, establishment of Surgeon - Global Surgery Academic Job Description, harmonization of departmental academic salaries, initiation of the Competency - Based Curriculum in the Division of Orthopaedics, establishment of University of Toronto City Wide Brain Tumor Bank initiative, establishment of 3 departmental lectureships, hiring of the departmental strategic planning implementation coordinator; hiring of a departmental communications coordinator, and hiring of a medical illustrator.

While I am very proud of these statistics and numbers in particular, the one I am most proud of is the prodigious academic output by our faculty members, residents and fellows.

We have been exceedingly fortunate in the numbers of promotees who have gone forward at the Decanal Committee in the Department of Surgery. There have been more than 77 successful applications over the past 5 years. We have had 63 new faculty recruits in the past 5 years, and 62 full time surgeons and 8 scientists passed their Continuing Appointment Reviews.

I have been exceedingly pleased with the Department of Surgery medical student curriculum, which included new Breakfast Seminars with the Chairman, SEAD Course, Suture Tying workshops, and Life in Surgery series among other things. Barry Rubin hosted the first Practice Management Financial Planning Seminar for senior residents, Faculty Development Day has been established, and is now run conjointly with the Department of Anesthesiology. We established the Ben Alman Lectureship in Surgical Science, the Robin McLeod Lectureship in clinical epidemiology, and the Balfour Lectureship in Surgical Ethics.

Our Strategic plan, Transforming Surgery: Beyond the Cutting Edge runs from 2012 -2017. We are almost at the end of this plan, but in actuality, there is no end point. Rather, there are frequent adjustments along the way. My plan in 2017 is to run a “refresh” of the strategic planning document process with a goal in mind of finetuning those areas that still need additional attention in the Department of Surgery.

As I was assembling the self- study survey for the Dean and external reviewers, this 300 hundred page document paled in comparison to the more than 800 pages that were required to publish all of the citations for the Department of Surgery. The external reviewers were indeed impressed with this phenomenal output and, at the end of the review, acknowledged the positioning of the Department of Surgery within the top five programs in the world.

It has been my great honor to steer the Department of Surgery on a course which has taken us to greater heights these past five years. Needless to say, I look forward to working with all of you over the next five years to see all that we can accomplish together.

James T Rutka, RS McLaughlin Professor and Chair,
Department of Surgery

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