By: Yasmine Elmir
Julie Lane, Postgraduate Administrative Officer in the Department of Family Medicine, has been a valued member of the DFM team since 2006. “I think I am one of the few remaining DFM employees who got to experience working in our ‘old house’ on the corner of Pine and the top of University street,” shares Julie. She quickly began working with Student Services in the Office of the Dean of Students after graduating from Concordia University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Cultural Studies in 2005. This experience sparked her passion and interest in curriculum, education development and event coordination. “I was drawn to the Department of Family Medicine for the opportunity I was given at the time. Medical education and administration were not fields that I had previously had any experience with. Academic and Clinical Medicine was not a topic that was discussed around our dinner table, so for me this was an exciting opportunity that offered the chance to participate and engage in a field well beyond my comfort zone,” she recalls. “Without much hesitation, I gladly accepted the position in Family Medicine and have not looked back since.”
After her time in Student Services, Julie began working in the Postgraduate (PG) Program as a coordinator in 2008 and became Postgraduate Administrative Officer in 2017. Her main responsibilities include supporting Dr. Fanny Hersson-Edery, Postgraduate Program Director, with the day-to-day management of the Family Medicine Residency Program. She is primarily involved with recruitment and selection of trainees (CARMS), accreditation management portfolio, resident affairs and the development of special projects. Her most crucial responsibility is to ensure that the PG team provides continuous and quality support, guidance and counselling to the education site directors, administrators and residents in the units. “What I like most about the Department and our team in the Postgraduate Program is that we really are a close knit family. It is in our Department name! Our team is a family and I have the privilege of working with some of the most inspiring clinician leaders, administrators and residents,” says Julie. “It takes a team let alone a small village of dedicated people to continuously deliver a competency-based residency program for over 200 residents in nine teaching units located across our province.”
Throughout the years, Julie has had to adapt to many changes, but she never anticipated the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the PG team. “We had to learn rapidly how to reset and function in a remote setting. This meant quickly adapting to delivering our academic teaching to an online format. Dr. Carlin, Assistant Director in Curriculum, and our team had to figure out in a short period how to transition our teaching material to an online platform and make it accessible for our residents,” she shares. “In addition, local teams in the units had to transition to telemedicine which brought on added unknowns involved with patient management and supervision of residents.”
The pandemic also resulted in many clinical experiences being cancelled or closed. Residents had to be rescheduled in different rotations with very little turn-around time. This left the administrative team scrambling to reassign current residents while trying to compile the schedule for the incoming R1s who were starting in July 2020. The teams were also required to provide residents to the redeployment schedule on a monthly basis, which further complicated the management of resident scheduling while being tasked with ensuring that our residents continued to receive the clinical experiences needed to graduate from Family Medicine.
Julie’s top priorities the past year remained focused on ensuring that the teaching units and residents received the support and guidance needed to survive the year. “Being available to help guide our teams through what has been the most challenging and exhausting year in the history of our program was certainly up there in our list of priorities. The solutions we applied really came from trial and error,” she explains. “We adapted with the issues as they were presented to us. One of the early solutions we implemented was to establish core PG team meetings on a weekly basis. These meetings allowed our core team to support each other as we figured out which direction to move in as a program. Communication strategies became key in our survival. When we realised that our meetings proved to be helpful for our little team, we decided to implement the initiative program wide and started hosting a weekly series called PG Panel Hour.”
The PG team quickly thought of ways to adapt their recruiting efforts to an online format. They produced 11 documentary videos, presenting all the Family Medicine teaching units and an overview of the Postgraduate Program. “The idea of having to transition our recruiting event to an online forum seemed not only impractical and uninviting, but also almost impossible to implement,” Julie recalls. “Throughout the summer months, the team worked on pitching our idea to our units and recruited our site directors, administrators and our residents to be willing participants in our videos. We were reminded a few times that we were in a global pandemic and the likelihood of this project working out seemed doubtful. Despite this unrealistic time to be producing promotional videos, our PG members offered their support and we just kept moving forward with our film crew because we truly believed in this project.”
“Prior to the pandemic, I thought our PG team was resilient. Nothing fazed us. I thought we had seen it all,” adds Julie. “However, now that we have lived through the pandemic and managed to keep our residency program alive and still deliver a competency-based program to over 200 residents, I think it is safe to say that we have a team of PG Warriors! Go McGill! I am beyond proud and amazed at how strong and resilient we are in Family Medicine. Despite the challenges and difficulties we experienced, our leadership and dedication to our speciality, and our residents got us through to where we are today. Welcoming our new cohort of residents and ready to start a new year!”