An academic strategic plan outlines goals that advance the mission and vision of an academic unit over a five-year period. In the fall of 2018, the Faculty of Medicine began a consultation process that heard from more than 400 people and involved nearly 100 people who served on working groups. This process led to the development of the Academic Strategic Plan 2018-2023: Leadership in advancing new knowledge, better health and equity, which was approved by Faculty Council in November 2018 and implementation began in January 2019.
The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto has a deep history of global leadership in all aspects of its work – from discovery science and ground-breaking innovation to preparing expert physicians, rehabilitation professionals and researchers. The Faculty is known for: developing graduates who lead in their fields; attracting powerhouse scientists; fostering interdisciplinary research and learning; an unprecedented network of integrated academic and clinical sites; and access to one of the most diverse populations in the world.
With this unique breadth, depth and strength, developing a strategy for the next five years was about examining and articulating the impact that the Faculty of Medicine is having on the world, and identifying how it can fully live into its possibilities.
In early 2018, the Faculty held a series of engagement sessions to bring together diverse voices to explore high level strategic questions: How do we fully enable the “Toronto Advantage” – our unparalleled resources and strengths – to make a difference in the world? How do we anticipate what the world will need from our graduates and ensure they are poised to lead and create change in an increasingly complex world? And with our unique resources, where should we be focusing our provincial, national and global leadership?
These conversations included more than 400 faculty, learners, staff, academic and clinical partners, innovation leaders and patients and focused on the full scope of the Faculty of Medicine – Rehabilitation Sciences, Basic Sciences and Clinical sectors encompassing all aspects of teaching, research and administration.
Among the multiple strengths for the Faculty, the community continually pointed to an openness to collaboration, ranging from interdisciplinary research and interprofessional learning to the Faculty’s ability to connect diverse clinical sites through the TAHSN network. This openness to collaboration was matched by a perceived valuing of equity and inclusion, and a deep desire to fully enable diversity in all aspects of our work. This means bring people together from across different disciplines and professions, but also ensuring we reflect the multitude of identities present at U of T and in the population of the Greater Toronto Area. Finally, the engagement sessions revealed a thirst to take the potential for innovation within the Faculty to a new level.
Throughout the planning process it became clear that the Faculty of Medicine is well established in all of its realms for ground-breaking research and innovation, leading approaches to teaching, meaningful relationships with clinical sites and economic sustainability. At the same time, there is a high desire to take on even greater leadership on some of the biggest health, science and equity issues, including Indigenous health, partnering to improve clinical care and ramping up the impact of its research and innovation, through meaningful translation to clinical practice and through commercialization.
Over the next few years, the primary strategic need is not to invent new elements for the Faculty, but to amplify the impact of what it is already achieving. This amplification should be focused on a fusion of what currently exists, to more fully share knowledge and resources across the Faculty, University and TAHSN network, and to expand international partnerships and impact. There is a need to actively incentivize and shape collaboration, cross-pollination and new ideas through process and support. Finally, a need was identified to bring the Faculty’s focus on diversity and wellbeing to a new dimension, recognizing that excellence is not possible without equity, diversity and a thriving human environment. We cannot equip the next generation nor address the most difficult scientific and health questions without bringing the full force of multiple perspectives to bear.
This strategy was developed through broad consultations, beginning with the engagement of a Strategic Planning Steering Committee made up of representatives from leaders in Clinical Medicine, Rehabilitation Sciences, Basic Sciences, students, and partners from the Toronto Academic Health Science Network. This group helped to identify topics of inquiry and key targets for our initial stakeholder consultation.
Between January and March of 2018, we hosted 14 focus groups with existing committees and teams from across the Faculty of Medicine, and members of the Steering Committee reached out to key partners from across our network and into the international community of academic health science institutions to gather input and perspectives about how the University of Toronto is perceived today and what we need to pay attention to as we plan for the next 10-15 years. In total, more than 400 people were consulted.
The initial consultation informed the creation of six big strategic topics that needed further exploration:
These topics were each explored in half-day intensive strategy sessions that brought together leaders from across the Faculty and TASHN, faculty, staff, students and key partners to explore possible priority areas of focus in each of these domains. The results of these rich and meaningful conversations were consolidated to create a guiding vision for the Faculty of Medicine, three strategic domains of focus and two enabling elements.
These aspirations came together in a guiding vision for the Faculty of Medicine:
Our learners, graduates, faculty, staff and partners will be an unparalleled force for new knowledge, better health and equity.
We will cultivate and bring to life ideas that impact scholarship and society through unprecedented collaboration drawing in the diverse voices of our research, learning and clinical network.
Promote, incentivize and support a new level of collaboration among our faculty, staff, learners, academic health science partners and our community that fuses the diverse strengths of our network and creates new possibilities for research, education and solutions for better health in our communities.
Everything we do will set us up for exponential impact that draws on the diverse voices in our unparalleled research, learning and clinical network.
Amplify our discoveries and academic excellence, escalate the real-world impact of our research and teaching and make space for novel collaborations that produce the extraordinary.
We will cultivate and bring to life ideas that impact scholarship and society.
Make inclusion and equity essential components of how we define and foster excellence in scholarship, practice and health outcomes. Individuals across the Faculty of Medicine, regardless of how they identify, will be invited to have a voice and be empowered to effect change.
Our environment will draw in and draw on our global outlook through diverse perspectives from a range of disciplines. Our graduates will be internationally recognized and a change force for equity.
Foster a culture where health, wellbeing and resiliency are considered and integrated in all elements of our enterprise from the places we work, learn and conduct research to the opportunities people have to express their diverse needs.
Create seamless flow of ideas and effective stewardship of resources within the Faculty of Medicine, across the University, across the TAHSN network and with other local, national and international partners to enhance our ability to collaborate and have collective sustainable impact.