May 5, 2023

Investing in People: A New Professorship in Faculty Leadership

Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Giving
Dr. Vincent Chan
By Deanna Cheng

Anesthesiologist Vincent Chan (PGME ’86) served as a faculty member at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine long enough to know that academic leaders aren’t born — they’re grown. Reflecting this, he’s recently made a $2-million gift to support the development of future generations of faculty leaders in anesthesiology and pain medicine.

Chan first joined U of T in 1980, completing his medical residency at U of T and St. Michael’s Hospital before specializing in anesthesiology in 1983. As a longtime professor in U of T’s Department of Anesthesiology (now the Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine), he also served as the Department’s Director of Faculty Development before retiring in 2022.

Throughout his extensive medical career, he has recognized the value of professional development — and the gap that often exists in this area.

While learning is encouraged at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels, as well as through continuing professional development, little attention has historically been paid to optimizing how physicians the primary deliverers of medical education can grow as faculty leaders.

“Clinicians don’t have a lot of time, especially in anesthesiology, where your working hours are spent in the operating room,” says Chan. “I look at the leaders in our department and most are self-taught. That’s because very few have time to complete additional degrees or undergo extra training. Leadership development takes a lot of time and money, and asking people to do this on top of their practice can be difficult.”

Now, Chan is looking to drive change with a generous gift to establish a new endowed professorship in faculty leadership. The Dr. Vincent and Anne Chan Professorship in Faculty Leadership will support leadership programming development in the Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, while also enabling current and future learners and faculty members to participate in leadership-focused lectures, courses, classes and conferences.

In many ways, Chan sees this gift as a tribute to his late mother, an inheritance from whom helped make Chan’s commitment possible.

“I learned a lot from my mom,” recalls Chan. “She taught me to invest in people, because once you learn something, you can use that knowledge and multiply it. When you invest in others, their impact is more than what one person can achieve alone.”

Chan hopes to inspire others to give back, just as his mom inspired him.

“I hope that people will take the opportunity to learn and to give back — to serve the department to become better,” says Chan. “As a leader, you can mentor and help junior faculty in many different ways across many different departments.”

“Leadership has never come naturally to me, so I felt I needed proper training before stepping into that role. I took a continuing professional development course that helped, but I feel that ongoing, longitudinal learning was needed,” he adds. “I hope this professorship will help others acquire proper leadership skills more readily and quickly.”

"Vincent has recognized a need in this area for a long time," says Beverley Orser, Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine. "Throughout his career, he's made it his personal mission to not only grow as a faculty member through his own learning, but also to help shape the development of others."

"Within the international medical community, Vincent is known for his leadership in education and research in the field of anesthesiology," adds Orser. "His generous commitment to permanently endow this professorship will only add to that — setting a new standard for faculty leadership in both our academic unit and our broader field."

While Chan may be retired, he is still making his mark on his field. He is currently organizing an international symposium on the applications of ultrasound for regional anesthesia, pain medicine and point of care, as well as a regional anesthesia scientific program for the World Congress of Anesthesiologists taking place in Singapore next year.

“I have a different perspective now. In the last phase of my career journey, I’ve learned that you can’t take things with you so it’s important to give back,” says Chan. “Through my continued work in education, and through this donation, I’m leaving something behind to help future generations.”