By Andrea Di Ubaldo
Pick a hot topic, add some industry professionals, invite everyone you can think of. What do you get? A Medical Student Health Policy Symposium that is both educational and, as the organizers hope, a little bit controversial.
The symposium will be on May 7, 2009 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Faculty of Medicine’s Libin Lecture Theatre at the Health Sciences Centre.
Alaina Aguanno, a third-year medical student, and Kevin Wasko, a first-year medical student at the University of Calgary, are co-organizers of this year’s symposium which will discuss Canada’s doctor shortage. The two also sit on the students’ council as Vice-Presidents of External Affairs for their respective classes.
“We hope that this symposium answers a few questions but stirs up many more,” Aguanno says. “The issues we are discussing are complex – contributing factors and management strategies will only scratch the surface of the potential for the topics surrounding this issue.”
“We hope attendees will gain a better understanding of the physician shortage in Canada and what is being done to address the issue,” Wasko adds.
The annual symposium was created last year by Aguanno, who holds a masters of science in the areas of health policy and health economics and wanted to share her passion for these topics.
“I created the symposium because I felt that health-care professionals, and especially medical students like me, could benefit from a greater understanding of the social, political and economic context of the system in which we work,” Aguanno says.
Only in its second year, the event will feature many high-profile speakers, including the Hon. Ronald Liepert, Minister of Health and Wellness along with the presidents of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA), Drs. Robert Ouellet and Noel Grisdale, and professors from UCalgary and the University of British Columbia.
“We invited the people who we thought were best-suited to answer our questions and they said yes!” Aguanno says excitedly. “Our speakers have been very enthusiastic about this event, both last year and again this year; we are fortunate to have such dedicated teachers and leaders.”
Last year’s symposium examined public, private and mixed models of health care financing and featured Dr. Brian Day, CMA president, and Dr. Darryl LaBuick, AMA president, along with Dr. Tom Noseworthy, professor and head of the Department of Community Health Sciences and director of the Centre for Health and Policy Studies at UCalgary.
“We’re really excited about this year’s event. With the enthusiastic support we received last year, the first symposium was at maximum capacity,” Aguanno smiles.
Learn more about the 2nd Annual Medical Students Health Policy Symposium.
About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary
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One of the driving forces behind the success of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine passed away suddenly this past weekend. Dr. Grant Gall, former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1997-2007, died while vacationing with his wife of 49 years, Laurie. Dr. Gall had recently been awarded the Order of the University of Calgary for his distinguished service.
Under Dr. Gall’s leadership, the O’Brien Centre for the Bachelor of Health Sciences program was launched, the Faculty’s six research institutes were created and the Health Research Innovation Centre (HRIC) was constructed. He also spearheaded an international health program where University of Calgary doctors and medical students travel to developing nations such as Laos, Chile and the Philippines to deliver better health care and enhanced medical training.
“Dr. Gall’s passion for transformation and change, his ambitious vision for the Faculty and his dogged determination to make that vision a reality inspired many of his students, colleagues and friends,” said Tom Feasby, Dean, Faculty of Medicine in a message to all faculty staff and students this morning. “It is difficult to fully describe the imprint that Dr. Gall has left on us and on the Faculty as a whole, but in the coming days we will consider an appropriate way to recognize his significant contribution. “
Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Dr. Gall attended school in Acme, Alberta where he graduated from Acme High School and moved on to the University of Alberta for med school. After graduating in 1965, and completing his internship and residency in Vancouver, Toronto and Boston, he then spent several years as a member of the Division of Gastroenterology for SickKids Hospital in Toronto. He also held appointments as an instructor in Paediatrics at Harvard and Boston universities. In 1979, Dr. Gall joined the University of Calgary and proceeded to make his mark here over the next 30 years.
Distinguished career in paediatrics
Prior to serving as dean, Dr. Gall was head of the Division of Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, holder of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Paediatric Research, assistant dean (research), professor and head of the Department of Paediatrics, medical leader of the Child Health Program and head of the Regional Department of Paediatrics.
During his two terms as dean, the Faculty of Medicine nearly doubled both the number of its faculty members and the number of students admitted into the MD program. The O’Brien Bachelor of Health Sciences program is now recognized nationally as an innovative training program preparing undergraduate students through inter-disciplinary education in diverse areas.
From vision to reality
A “builder” in all senses of the word, Dr. Gall forged long-lasting relationships with the corporate community, actively involving them in developing a blueprint for excellence through the Dean’s Advisory Council. In addition to the HRIC building, Dr. Gall was also instrumental in convincing politicians and decision-makers of the need for a new children’s hospital on the University of Calgary’s West Campus. He advocated for the creation of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, which was successfully launched this past September.
Dr. Gall was a visionary leader who will be greatly missed by all who knew him. His impact in life was large, and therefore, his loss will be felt far and wide.
The University of Calgary community sends wishes of comfort and sympathy to his family.
Details on funeral arrangements are not yet available but the family has requested that donations be made to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, in lieu of flowers.