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I am delighted to have Dr Anne Gillis, President of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Academy (CCSA), co-author this month’s President’s Page. Since its inception nearly a decade ago, the Academy has significantly improved the Society’s commitment to knowledge translation. It has supported hundreds of medical students, prospective cardiovascular specialists and researchers through its funded programs, which include intense educational workshops, scholarships and bursaries. Both Anne and I have proudly served on the CCSA Board of Directors for several years and agree that, although its impact has been significant, there is still more that the Academy can do. We must aim to expand the Academy’s mandate beyond training to include programs that support further professional development initiatives, and important health policy and advocacy activities. To reach this goal, we need to build greater individual donor support and focus our fundraising efforts on developing a broader range of opportunities that will generate increased and sustained revenue for the Academy.
Both the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) and the CCSA believe that supporting our trainees is instrumental to ensuring a strong cardiovascular sector in the future. Several years ago, the Academy chose to centre its attention on providing support to students, prospective cardiovascular specialists and scientists-in-training, and developed programs to engage trainees, promising young students and researchers pursuing careers in the cardiovascular field. The programs also provide support for prospective cardiovascular specialists from the moment they begin specialized training until the completion of their final year of residency.
The most popular and sought-after of all the Academy-funded activities are the annual Trainee Review Programs (TRPs). These are a critical component in the preparation for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada examinations. Each of the three TRPs – adult, pediatric and cardiac surgery – provides our future colleagues with practical exposure to all aspects of the examination process under the tutelage of experienced faculty. The sessions also offer trainees the opportunity to network with program academics and fellow trainees from across Canada; this helps them make important connections for future career development.
Every year, we receive exceptional feedback on the quality of the training provided by the dedicated faculty who administer the TRPs – all of whom graciously donate their time and leadership to develop and implement the highly successful sessions. We thank every member who helped make the TRPs such a resounding success, particularly the chairs, Dr Simon Jackson (Adult Cardiology), Dr Kenny Wong (Pediatric Cardiology) and Dr Yoan Lamarche (Cardiac Surgery).
“This was hands-down the best course I have attended as a fellow. It was an invaluable experience to have staff of such calibre from across the country participate. It was a great sign of support for Canadian trainees.”Carolyn Taylor, Adult Cardiology Resident, now cardiologist at St Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia
The Annual Cardiovascular Trainee Day is another opportunity to support up-and-coming cardiovascular trainees in their professional development. This one-day program is held annually preceding the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress (CCC), and consists of a series of workshops and plenary sessions that help trainees address a number of important topics, but mainly focuses on transitional issues to help students and trainees progress seamlessly from their scholastic endeavours to the working world.
The final initiative supported by the CCSA is the Have a Heart Bursary Program. The bursary program was specifically designed to introduce promising young Canadian medical students, postgraduate trainees and basic scientists-in-training to cardiovascular sciences. All award recipients are invited to the CCC. The program began in 2002, when the CCSA selected six deserving individuals. Since then, the Academy has been able to significantly expand the program, awarding more than 94 bursaries to date. The CCSA is committed to funding at least 15 trainees to attend the CCC annually.
“The Have a Heart Bursary Program gave me a fantastic opportunity to attend the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress for the first time. The CCSA mentor breakfast was an exceptional event where I was able to interact freely with leading clinicians and researchers, whose enthusiasm made me feel welcomed and excited about being a part of the cardiovascular community. The scientific program of the CCC showcased current research findings and opened my eyes to other potential options available in the field. As an aspiring clinician-scientist, this experience further cemented my interest in becoming a cardiovascular health professional in Canada.”Anita YM Chan, 2007 Have a Heart Bursary Recipient, MD/PhD Student, TORCH Trainee
We are able to keep in touch with past bursary recipients who are current members of the CCS. We have been pleased to see many of the bursary winners appearing on the list of first-year residents in either adult cardiology, pediatric cardiology or cardiac surgery programs across Canada. It is also encouraging to see some of our future scientists and researchers, who are previous bursary winners, present abstracts at the CCC.
This year has been particularly rewarding because we are now seeing some of our very first bursary winners starting their practices in cardiology or cardiac surgery – some of whom are helping to bring the program full circle by donating their time to become involved, and deliver CCS or CCSA programs.
Each year, the CCSA makes a progressively larger impact on the future of the cardiovascular community in Canada. None of these important activities could have been possible without the generous donor support we see each year, which has been essential in developing and expanding the Academy’s current programs. The funding is also instrumental in driving new initiatives, including a specialized trainee Web site that will provide a forum for trainees to discuss important issues, a fellowship database and funding opportunities.
Both Anne and I are proud of the Academy’s accomplishments to date, but we also share a vision of expanding the CCSA to increase the breadth of its reach. To meet this goal, we must better use the Academy as a charitable organization, and reach out to new donor organizations and individuals.
Some of the work in this area has already begun. The Academy is in the process of finalizing an exciting new partnership with the makers of Entrophen (Pendopharm, Canada) in which the company will make a one-dollar donation to the CCSA for every 81 mg and 325 mg strength bottle of Entrophen sold in Canada during January and February 2010. This is just one example of how we can better work with our industry partners. We look forward to sharing more information about new partnerships as they are formed.
We are appealing to CCS members to increase their support of the Academy. Until recently, the majority of the Academy’s funding came directly from the CCS, based on funds generated from the CCC, but this is not sustainable. We have been very encouraged by the increase in personal donations over the past several years. The number of CCS members who donated has risen steadily, from 51 in 2006, to 95 last year. In 2009, a record 135 members donated to the CCSA, but we believe that there is room to increase that number even more.
We firmly believe that increased member support will be crucial to the long-term success of the Academy and its programs. The CCSA has four levels by which it recognizes giving: Friend (up to $499), Benefactor ($500 to $999), President’s Circle ($1,000 to $4,999) and Visionary ($5,000 and up). For more information on how you can give to the Academy, please visit www.ccs.ca or call 1-877-569-3407 ext 402. If you have not already done so, please consider donating.
We personally thank everyone who has contributed to the CCSA’s success over the past decade. It is thanks to your generous support and dedication that the Academy can run its programs and help ensure a strong cardiovascular sector in Canada. As always, we invite you to contact us via e-mail at ac.SCC@tnediserp or ac.yraglacu@silligma if you have any questions, input or ideas regarding the Academy, or wish to become involved. We pledge to either reply to you personally or have one of the appropriate members of our CCSA staff or the Board respond to you directly.