Rady Faculty strengthens anti-racism commitment

In August, the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences approved its Disruption of All Forms of Racism policy, the first anti-racism policy to be passed by any faculty or post-secondary institution in Canada.

The landmark policy was drafted following consultation with faculty, staff, learners and stakeholders.

“We have an opportunity at this important juncture in our history to not only be leaders standing against racism, but to be disruptors,” said Brian Postl [MD/76], dean of the Rady Faculty. “Each of us needs to recognize existing racism within our faculty and to take responsibility to eliminate all forms of racism … and to intervene when witnessing any racism.”

The purposes of the policy include setting out procedures for the reporting of and disruption of racism; affirming the responsibility of the Rady Faculty to implement policies, procedures, education and training to eliminate the expression of racism; and describing commitments and proactive steps to foster learning and work environments that are free of racism.

The document complements and builds upon related policies, including the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policy and the Max Rady College of Medicine Prevention of Learner Mistreatment policy.

Postage stamp honours research giant 

Henry Bruce Chown [MD/22] is one of six groundbreaking Canadian physicians and researchers whose achievements are recognized on new Canada Post stamps that were unveiled in September.

Born in Winnipeg in 1893, Chown earned his medical degree at UM and went on to become head of the university’s pediatrics department. He established the Winnipeg Rh Laboratory and led research that helped to eliminate rhesus (Rh) disease, a condition that can occur when the Rh blood types of a pregnant woman and her fetus are incompatible. The disease was once a major cause of newborn deaths.

“This honour is a fitting way to celebrate Dr. Bruce Chown’s groundbreaking research,” said Brian Postl [MD/76], dean of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. “He was a pioneer in his field and his work virtually eliminated infant deaths from Rh disease.”

Chown, who died in 1986, has been called “one of the true giants in the overlapping fields of pediatrics, obstetrics, hematology and blood banking.” He is a laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. In 2016, UM unveiled a commemorative bust of Chown on the Fort Garry campus.

Bear medicine inspires new name for College of Nursing program


The former Aboriginal Nursing Cohort Initiative (ANCI) at the College of Nursing has a new name, chosen to reflect the healing, strength and courage that are at the program’s core of providing support to Indigenous students.

Part of the name, Mahkwa omushki kiim, means “bear medicine” in Ojibway. “In many communities, the bear is known as the great healer and for its spiritual power and physical strength,” said Elder Margaret Lavallee.

Mahkwa omushki kiim, Pathway to Indigenous Nursing Education (PINE) carries on the work that has been done by ANCI since 2008. The program provides Indigenous students with access to an Elder-in-Residence, regular meetings with a student advisor, counsellor and academic coach, and smaller class sizes to facilitate a more focused and supported learning environment.

“Our hope is that the students will identify with the spirit of the bear medicine and its teachings while they are with us in PINE, and upon graduation in their nursing practice,” said Audrey Richard [BSW/05, M.Ed./12], PINE student advisor/counsellor.

From an initial admission of 26 students in 2008, PINE has grown to support more than 100 self-identified Indigenous students each year.

New degrees focus on large-population drug research

This fall, the College of Pharmacy launched a new concentration in pharmacoepidemiology, allowing students to earn master’s and PhD degrees in this specialty. The degrees are open not only to pharmacists, but to scientists who have completed their undergraduate work in other fields.

Pharmacoepidemiology is the study of the use, safety and effectiveness of drugs in large groups of people. By analyzing health data, pharmacoepidemiologists reveal findings such as side effects, drug interactions, and patients’ differing responses to drugs based on factors such as age or genetics.

Pharmacy professor Dr. Silvia Alessi-Severini said other Canadian universities that offer graduate degrees in pharmacoepidemiology can’t keep up with the demand for trained professionals in the field.

“Regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical manufacturers are increasingly interested in using real-world research to confirm and follow the use and effectiveness of medications,” she said.

Manitoba, the professor said, is one of the best places in Canada to pursue pharmacoepidemiology because of the world-class data repository housed at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

“The Rady Faculty is positioned to become a leading site for training experts in pharmacoepidemiology,” Alessi-Severini said.

UM partners with Indigenous communities to reduce kids’ tooth decay

A research project aimed at reducing the high rate of early childhood tooth decay among First Nations and Métis children in Manitoba has received nearly $1.5 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

The project is jointly led by the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, the Manitoba Metis Federation and UM researchers.

“This research is being designed, carried out and evaluated … in close partnership with First Nations and Métis communities,” said Bob Schroth [DMD/96, M.Sc./03, PhD/11], professor in the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry and the Max Rady College of Medicine, and researcher with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba.

“We’re ensuring that the promotion of early-childhood oral health … reflects First Nations and Métis ways of knowing,” said Kathy Yerex [B.Sc./02, Dip.D.Hyg./04], assistant professor in the School of Dental Hygiene and one of the study’s Métis principal investigators.

The five-year project, to be conducted in about 10 First Nations and Métis communities, will integrate Indigenous teachings into Manitoba’s Healthy Smile Happy Child initiative, which promotes oral care.

It will also evaluate the benefits of having babies and preschoolers assessed for tooth decay by non-dental care providers, such as nurses.

College of Rehabilitation Sciences develops telepresence robots


Researchers at the College of Rehabilitation Sciences are developing telepresence robots – tools to help individuals with dementia interact virtually with their caregivers.

A telepresence robot is remote-controlled by a smartphone or other device. It has a built-in video camera, screen, speakers and microphones, providing for two-way communication. It allows a person with dementia and a caregiver, who is often a family member, to stay in contact when the caregiver is off-site.

“Telepresence robots provide an effective solution for minimizing the burden on informal caregivers of people living with dementia,” said Dr. Reg Urbanowski, dean of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences.

Urbanowski is co-leading the research with Dr. Amine Choukou, assistant professor of occupational therapy. The project received $360,000 in funding from Research Manitoba and the Victoria General Hospital Foundation (VGHF).

The college will test robots over the next two years, with the goal of supplying 15 of them to VGHF.

The research team will also be supported by the Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba, Manitoba Association of Seniors Centres, UM faculty from rehabilitation sciences, computer science and business, and an international network of researchers, including some from the Netherlands and Switzerland.

UM to help foreign-trained professionals qualify for Manitoba practice


A new resource hub will help internationally educated pharmacists, physiotherapists and other health professionals qualify for practice in Manitoba.

The Rady Faculty has received more than $735,000 from the Foreign Credential Recognition Program provided by Employment and Social Development Canada to create an Access Hub for Internationally Educated Health Professionals.

“This central hub will help highly skilled newcomers navigate all the requirements to earn their licences, get registered in their professions and enter the Manitoba workforce faster than they typically do now,” said Natalie MacLeod Schroeder [PhD/18], the hub’s director.

The Access Hub, which has initial funding until early 2023, will start offering services in the summer or fall of 2021. It will particularly seek to guide and support newcomers in six fields: pharmacy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, respiratory therapy, speech language pathology and audiology.

Professionals with foreign credentials will be able to take individual courses – including clinical fieldwork courses – within UM programs such as pharmacy, physical therapy and occupational therapy, filling gaps in their qualifications without having to enrol in an entire program.

The hub will also work to encourage more professionals in workplaces to serve as preceptors (supervisors) of newcomers who need to complete clinical placements.

Powerhouse profs earn high-profile recognition


Three professors from the Max Rady College of Medicine were named among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women of 2020 by the Women’s Executive Network.

“It’s gratifying that these outstanding women – true role models – are being formally recognized for their many achievements,” said Brian Postl [MD/76], dean of the Rady Faculty. “I sincerely congratulate all three faculty members.”

Meghan Azad [PhD/10], associate professor of pediatrics and child health, Canada Research Chair in developmental origins of chronic disease, and researcher with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM), was honoured in the Emerging Leaders category, which recognizes highly accomplished mid-career women.

Sara Israels [MD/79], professor of pediatrics and child health, senior scientist at the Research Institute in Oncology and Hematology and vice-dean (academic affairs) of the Rady Faculty, was awarded in the Professionals category, which recognizes women who are professionals in practice and leaders within their organizations.

Dr. Soheila Karimi, professor of physiology and pathophysiology and researcher with CHRIM, was recognized in the Science and Technology category, which celebrates leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics roles who are challenging the status quo for knowledge and female empowerment.

College of Nursing, Health Sciences Centre partner for new clinical chair


Dr. Diana McMillan [MN/95], associate professor of nursing, has been named the inaugural Health Sciences Centre (HSC) Clinical Chair.

McMillan has been on the College of Nursing faculty for 19 years, with much of her research focused on sleep from a population health perspective. In her new role, she will support clinicians at HSC – Manitoba’s largest hospital – while building partnerships with the College of Nursing.

“I’ll be working with the leadership at HSC and within the college to look at synergies between these two organizations and ways we can support more nursing research and develop clinical practice excellence and scholarship,” she said.

“I see myself as a mentor, educator and resource, not only leading research but supporting and educating others amongst my teams – primarily nursing, but not only nursing, because multidisciplinary research is really important.”

Dr. Netha Dyck [BN/88], dean of nursing, said McMillan is highly qualified. “Diana will provide leadership in building clinical research capacity with a patient-first philosophy,” Dyck said.

The chair is jointly funded by HSC and the College of Nursing and is supported by the HSC Foundation’s Dolly and Michael Gembey Nursing Research Endowment Fund.

Dental college gives virtual welcome to incoming classes

In October, the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry’s Opening Assembly and White Coat Ceremony was held virtually via Zoom.

First-year students participated from home, ceremonially donning their inaugural white coats. The dental college welcomed 29 students who will earn four-year degrees, as well as seven International Dentist Degree Program students. The School of Dental Hygiene welcomed 26 students.

Anastasia Kelekis-Cholakis [DMD/92, Dip.Perio/98], dean of dentistry, advised students: “Wear your white coat with pride, but also with an understanding of what your responsibilities are.”

Métis student Evan Loeb said he hopes to serve Indigenous patients. “As a dentist, I will have the ability to advocate for my patients and better oral health in the Indigenous community,” Loeb said.

Mary Bertone [Dip.D.Hyg./05, B.Sc.D.Hyg./11, MPH/15], director of the School of Dental Hygiene, said about the COVID-19 pandemic, “We are facing the greatest, most impactful public health crisis of our lifetime.”

Dentistry alumnus Alexander (Sandy) Mutchmor [DMD/83] spoke of how the college has always evolved. “COVID-19 is causing another shift in the way things will be done, and again this school will rise to the challenges of providing a quality education,” he said.

New campus clinic provides health care to Rady students

In October, a new health clinic for students opened on the Bannatyne campus.

UM Student Affairs and the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences partnered to establish the clinic. A campus clinic had been identified as a need during the Max Rady College of Medicine’s accreditation process.

“With the opening of University Health Service at Bannatyne, Bannatyne campus students will have access to on-site medical care, minimizing any disruption to their studies,” said Lori Ann Lach [B.Sc./93, MD/97], director of University Health Service. “This will make accessing health care much less stressful and more convenient for busy students.”

Located in a newly renovated space at P309 – Pathology Building, the clinic allows students to access in-person or remote services. Students can contact the clinic at 204-272-3148.

College of Pharmacy recognizes exceptional preceptors


In October, the College of Pharmacy announced the winners of its Preceptor of the Year awards.

The awards recognize outstanding mentors who guide and encourage pharmacy students and supervise their clinical experience. The nominations come from graduating pharmacy students.

Dan Kyrzyk [B.Sc.(Pharm)/13], manager with LifeSmart Pharmacy, was named Community Preceptor of the Year. “He is very supportive and encouraging,” student Jenine Esquivel wrote in her nomination. “He lets me be more and more independent … and helped me greatly to attain my learning objectives.”

Kyrzyk said he was proud that his pharmacy team provided students with “a unique, fun and rewarding experience.”

Dr. Elizabeth McLachlan [B.Sc.(Hons.)/00, M.Sc./03], a biologist at the National Microbiology Laboratory who guides pharmacy students in research projects, received the Preceptor of the Year award for the electives program. “I credit this recognition to the success of my students this year, who were eager and very competent,” McLachlan said.

Christopher Dupont [B.Sc.(Pharm)/13], a pediatrics pharmacist at Health Sciences Centre, was honoured as Hospital Preceptor of the Year. Dupont said he became a preceptor to give back to his profession. “I enjoy being a part of and watching the journey of self-improvement,” he said.

New guide points to online physical therapy resources


A small team of faculty and students from the physical therapy department in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences has created a guide to help people find online resources to assist with their physical therapy needs at home.

“This will help people stay physically active at home, in ways that are sensitive to their health conditions,” said Dr. Patty Thille, assistant professor of physical therapy.

Thille started the initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the resulting guide will be helpful to anyone who is unable to visit a clinic or group exercise class regularly, including people in remote communities.

The guide provides links to information and exercise videos aimed at people with arthritis, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and many other conditions. It also contains general resources for those new to exercise, older adults, people with mobility challenges and pregnant mothers.

The project team included instructor Maureen Walker [BMRPT/86, M.Sc./02] and two physical therapy student volunteers, Laura Brinkman [B.Kin./19] and Chelsea Scheller [B.Sc./18, MPT/20].

“It’s a good starting place and guideline for a lot of people to get physically active,” Scheller said about the guide, which was launched in June.