Dr. Leslie Nickell named as Medical Director of the Physician Assistant Professional Degree Program

Aug 1, 2018

Dr. Leslie NickellDr. Leslie Nickell

Starting September 2018, Dr. Leslie Nickell is the new Medical Director of the Physician Assistant Professional Degree Program (BPsPA). 

The BPsPA program is a full-time professional, second-entry undergraduate degree program, based in the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM).  The degree is delivered by using a distance and distributed curriculum model in collaboration with Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and The Michener Institute of Education at UHN (Michener). The three institutions have formed the Consortium of PA Education (Consortium) to collaboratively contribute in the development, administration and delivery of the U of T degree. 

In her role, Dr. Nickell will provide strategic oversight of the program, as well as provide outreach to clinical sites and represent the program to stakeholders. 

“I’m delighted to accept this position, and I’m looking forward to building on the excellent work of Dr. Maureen Gottesman, who was the founding leader of the program,” says Dr. Nickell. “The program has grown and is now well established and strong because of her hard work and dedication.” 

Dr. Nickell is an Associate Professor at DFCM and has been a faculty member since 1993. She was a full-time family physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre for over 20 years before joining Bridgepoint Hospital in 2013. She is the Medical Lead for Caregiver Support Services at the Bridgepoint site of Sinai Health System. She has served in many medical education roles throughout her career, most recently as the Associate Dean, Health Professions Student Affairs, at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. 

In her new role, Dr. Nickell’s priorities include continuing to support the excellent education delivered to students, as well as undertaking scholarship activities to further identify and validate the  benefits of the program and the profession; with the ultimate aim to strengthen the role of the physician assistant within the Canadian healthcare system, both provincially and nationally. She believes we can learn from studying our own experiences to date and those of  Canadian and global colleagues. 

“Physician assistants can contribute to the health care system in many ways. Although we are in a fledgling stage in Canada, we know they are well-established in other countries,” says Dr. Nickell. “Physician assistants bring a unique role to the interprofessional team, and contribute to the quality and access of patient care and the quality of work life for physicians. By building on and creating new partnerships, seeking new opportunities for physician assistant training and career advancement and working closely with all of our stakeholder groups we will enhance our program, our student experience, and the future of the profession.“ 

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