PGME Program Director, Critical Care Medicine

Drs. Allan Garland and Bojan Paunovic, Section Heads Critical Care Medicine, are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Marcus Blouw, as the new PGME Program Director, Critical Care Medicine.

Dr. Blouw will be succeeding the current Program Director, Dr. Faisal Siddiqui effective July 1, 2017.

Marcus Blouw received his Medical Degree from the University of Manitoba. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine and fellowships in Respirology and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Manitoba.

Dr. Blouw provides in-patient services in both the Sections of Critical Care and Respiratory, and out-patient services in Respiratory Medicine. He is actively involved in teaching at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels and serves on the PGME Education Committees for both Respirology and Critical Care, and the Quality Improvement Committee for Critical Care. Dr. Blouw is a grant recipient for ongoing joint research efforts between the Departments of Critical Care Medicine and Psychiatry.

We welcome Dr. Marcus Blouw to his new role, and thank Dr. Faisal Siddiqui for his over six-year stewardship of this important position.


Welcome to the Internal Medicine and Subspecialty Residency Training Programs

We welcome and look forward to working with the following individuals who will be starting in our training programs in July.

Internal Medicine:

  • Reyna Altook, Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain
  • Anas Alzahrani, King Abdulaziz, Saudi Arabia
  • Hillary Bews, University of Manitoba
  • Ingrid Hougen, University of Manitoba
  • Caroline Hougen, University of Manitoba
  • Avni Jain, University College of Birmingham, UK
  • Robert Kudlovich, McMaster University
  • Allison Love, University of Manitoba
  • Ziran Meng, University of Manitoba
  • Alexey Mylnikov, University of Manitoba
  • Michael Onotera, University of Manitoba
  • Galia Pollock, University of Manitoba
  • Christie Rampersad, University of Manitoba
  • Dale Séguin, University of Ottawa
  • Kelvin Tran, University of Alberta
  • Kelsey Uminski, University of Manitoba
  • Evan Wiens, University of Manitoba
  • Charlie Yang, NUI Galway School of Medicine, Ireland
  • Caleb Yeung, University of Manitoba


  • Conrad Goerz, University of Manitoba
  • Anthony Wan, University of Toronto

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation:

  • Ans Sabzwari, University of Manitoba
  • Dayna Smordin, University of Alberta


Sub-Specialty Programs:


  • Judy Luu, U of S
  • Christopher Hayes, U of M
  • Asem Suliman, Memorial
  • Joel Scott-Herridge, U of M

Clinical Immunology & Allergy:

  • Colin Barber, U of M
  • Jacqueline Mouris, Memorial

Critical Care Medicine:

  • Rajat Sharma, U of M
  • William (Keith) Cumming, McMaster

Endocrinology & Metabolism:

  • Lauren Garbutt, U of M
  • Eyal Kraut, Queen’s

General Internal Medicine:

  • Graham Duff, U of M
  • Rachel Fainstein, U of M
  • Britanny Perija, U of M

Geriatric Medicine:

  • Christian Hanson, Memorial

Infectious Diseases:

  • Amina (Sarah) Henni, U of M

Respiratory Medicine

  • Terry Colbourne, U of M
  • Justin Ling, U of M (starting Aug. 24)
  • Evan Orlikow, U of M


  • Cairistin McDougall, U of C


Chief Medical Residents:

  • Kevin Brown
  • Rae-Kiran Jhinger
  • Rhys Sharkey

Senior Academic Residents:

  • Esther Kim
  • Paramvir Virdi

CIHR Grants

The project: “Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): Defining the Impact, Severity and Natural History of NAFLD in Canadian First-Nations and non-First Nations Communities”

  • Term: 5 years
  • Approved total funding amount: $2,031,075.
  • Principal Investigator (PI): Julia Uhanova, Section of Hepatology,
  • Co-investigators:
    Gerald Minuk, Section of Hepatology,
    Brenda Elias, Department of Community Health Sciences;
    Robert Tate, Department of Community Health Sciences
    Byron Beardy, Four Arrows Regional Health Authority


The project: Promotion of breastfeeding for preventing type 2 diabetes and obesity In First Nations mothers and children in communities.

  • Term: 3 years
  • Approved total funding amount: $424,575.
  • Principal Investigator (PI): Gary Shen Section of Endocrinology and Metabolism
  • Co-investigators: Sora Ludwig, Section of Endocrinology and Metabolism


The project: Heparin anticoagulation to improve outcomes in septic shock: The HALO International Phase II efficacy RCT

  • Term: 3 years
  • Principal Investigators: Ryan Zarychanski (Nominated), Anand Kumar, and Dean Fergusson
  • Co Applicants: Alejandria M, Yvette Barez, Cook DJ, Turgeon AF, Marshall JC, Fox-Robichaud A, McIntyre LA, Ramsay T, Green R, and Murdoch Leeies (Critical Care Fellow)

Funding Sources:

  • Canadian Institute of Health Research ($631,000) – International sites and trial infrastructure
  • CancerCare Manitoba Foundation ($120,000) – Patients enrolled in Manitoba
  • Philippine Council for Health Research & Development ($125,000)–Patients enrolled in Philippines

This international trial will be directed from Manitoba, but will enroll patients from several high, middle and low income countries.

Honours and Awards

The strength of any department lies in its’ members and their achievements and awards

Congratulations to Dr. Karen Ethans, Dr. Alan Casey and Dr. M. Tarhoni for winning a best poster presentation entitled:
A Randomized Double – Blind, Placebo – Controlled, Cross – Over Trial Assessing the Effect of Tadalafil (Cialis) on the Cardiovascular Response in Men with Complete Spinal Cord Injury Above the Sixth Thoracic Level” at the American Urology Association Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts in May 2017.


Congratulations to Dr. Shuangbo Liu, PGY-6, in the Adult Cardiology residency training program recipient of:

First Prize at the Annual Postgraduate Medical Education Resident Research “3 Minute Thesis Competition” Awarded for “Stent and ship: safety of early transfer of STEMI patients after PCI

2017 Cardiology Trainee Teacher Award of the Year for excellence in teaching, nominated by medical students and residents

2017 Sanofi Canada/Heart & Stroke Foundation Award in Cardiology for excellence in research and scholarly activity


Dr. Brent Schacter completed his term as President of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) at the May annual meeting attended by 710 delegates from around the world.  As Past-President, he will continue on the ISBER Executive Committee for a further year.


2017 Internal Medicine Residents’ Educator of the Year Award

Dr. Kulvir Badesha, General Internal Medicine

In recognition of his dedication and teaching excellence.


Dale Iwanoczko Award

Dr. Lindsay Torbiak

In recognition of her outstanding contribution to the Core Internal Medicine Residency Program demonstrating commitment, compassion, caring and integrity.

Academic Deliverables and Job Descriptions

Participation in teaching activities and collaborative research projects are noble obligations of any faculty member in an academic Department of Internal Medicine. They do not need to be specifically mentioned (or remunerated) in a job description, but are part of the academic job per se. What do I mean by that? Bedside teaching, lecturing in undergraduate and postgraduate curricula, and participating in CME events, as well as serving as examiner in the various in-training exams are expected from each and every academic physician, irrespective of his/her job description. Along the same line, recruiting patients into ongoing clinical trials, collection of patient samples for research purposes, and supporting other research activities is expected from any academic physician in our Department.

Beyond that, job descriptions are means to communicate specific expectations to faculty members and form the basis of performance management. Job descriptions define accountabilities and deliverables. The job description of an academic physician defines his/her role as faculty in a University Hospital and the associated expectations in delivery of health care services, research, and education.

In our Department there currently exist a myriad of individual job descriptions ranging from 20% to over 80% protected time for research, the remainder percentage being made of, again highly variable, teaching and service components. This high variability from individual contract to individual contract makes it difficult to define and compare deliverables and accountabilities across faculty. Thus, e.g. in which deliverables/accountabilities do job descriptions with 20% vs. 25% or between 40% and 50% protected time for research differ? Can one really measure with the required accuracy the time spent in the various components of an academic physician’s job description down to the single digit percentage?

In addition, experience from elsewhere and, most importantly, the analysis of our own data in the Department of Medicine clearly shows that faculty members with less than 50% protected time for research will rarely ever be successful as an independent researcher, lead investigator driven projects, and attract peer reviewed national grant support as a principal investigator. This holds especially true for young faculty members who need enough protected time to get their research enterprise off the ground in the years after their initial recruitment.

Many universities have therefore simplified job descriptions of academic physicians into three main categories, namely clinician-teacher (80% clinical, 20% teaching), clinician-investigator (50% clinical, 50% research), and clinician-scientist (20% clinical, 80% research), respectively. BTW: some universities even consider 50% protected time for research too little for junior faculty to become competitive in national grant competitions and discuss eliminating the clinician-investigator track. Only a handful of faculty members may fall into a few additional categories including clinician-educator (large work load component of program development/administration) or clinician-administrator, but those are far and few between.

Based on the above it seems worth considering harmonizing the academic job descriptions in our Department. In the coming months, we will engage with all of you, but in particular with those who have protected research time, in a conversation around opportunities to harmonize academic job descriptions and their associated deliverables and accountabilities.

Eberhard Renner, MD

Less is More – Focus on the Essential

This is a time of change. Change forced by the fact that the current way of serving our patients is not sustainable. We need to change how we do business, if we want to fulfill our mandate in the years to come and also serve the coming generations of patients. You all know that WRHA must balance its budget for this fiscal year. In addition, a profound consolidation of acute care in the city has been announced by the Minister of Health and WRHA on April 7 (for updates see

There is also change at the university side: a new model of budgeting/financing has been introduced, this fiscal year is still parallel with the old model, but to take over entirely in the next fiscal year.

When faced with changes in the environment that are so profound as the ones mentioned above, one has to step back and ask what is the core business one absolutely has to fulfill, what is nice to have but not essential, and what can be done by somebody else. Or as Steve Jobs once put it, “deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do”. More is not necessarily better; in fact, less is usually more, and doing every-thing definitely not an option.

It is absolutely clear that the overall funding envelope for our Department and WRHA program will likely contract, at best remain stable in the mid-term future, i.e. funding will shrink at least on an inflation corrected basis.

The core areas of an academic Department of Internal Medicine include providing tertiary patient care, train the next generation of (academic) physicians, and advance the field through research and innovation. To be able to accomplish this in the current environment, we will not only need to find efficiencies, but will have to learn to live with-out all the nice-to-haves that are not absolutely essential.

Doing so, we need to pursue what is best for the greater good, and refrain from fighting tooth and nail for our pet projects, as difficult as it may be. If we do this, all together as a team, we will not only weather the storm, but stay successful as a Department!

Eberhard Renner, MD

Do You Know the Costs You Generate by Ordering a Test?

Before buying something, we usually want to know the price. Before buying something expensive like insurance, a car or a house, we typically shop around to compare and convince ourselves that we get the best deal available. Before we spend money we usually want to know that what we are about to get is worth the cost.

Why is it then that as physicians we rarely have a clue what cost is accrued when we order a diagnostic test? If we don’t know, how should our trainees learn? And it is not just about the costs directly associated with what we order. There is potential downstream harm (and the costs associated with fixing it) that may be inadvertently generated by placing orders without much thinking and awareness. “Routine screening” with tumor markers such as PSA, AFP or CEA are well documented examples.

Daily blood work may be justified in certain situations, but not every inpatient needs it. In fact, who has not seen patients becoming anemic and requiring a transfusion while in hospital – related to daily blood draws rather than their underlying disease? Why are “routine” admission Xrays and EKGs still ordered – against all evidence? Why do we order lab panels with, in many instances, redundant tests – a GGT adds usually little or nothing to an ALP, isn’t it? These are just examples, a comprehensive discussion is beyond the scope of this blog, I refer to “Choosing Wisely Canada” ( and “Choosing Wisely Manitoba” (

I have heard people say that healthcare in this country is free. So why bother? We all know that this is short sighted: health care in this country is (fortunately) universally accessible, but, like everywhere else, by no means free; we all pay for it with our taxes. The (tax) money available for spending in health care is limited – unless we compromise invest-ments into other sectors equally (or even more) important for the future of our society such as education and infrastructure. Also the amount spent on unnecessary testing is no longer available for investment elsewhere within the health care system. Not to speak of the indirect and the intangible costs associated with harm (and fixing it) that we may potentially cause by a falsely positive result or a complication – which will eventually happen with any test, just on statistical grounds.

Bottom line: We need to become more aware of the (direct and indirect) costs we generate by ordering tests. It is mandatory to have a management question when we order a test. Just wanting to know cannot suffice. The result of a test needs to answer that question and affect the management of the patient. When we order a test we should order the most appropriate one – escalating from an Ultrasound over a CT to an MRI for a given suspected abdominal abnormality may not always be the most (cost) effective choice.

Eberhard Renner, MD

Of Secrets and Rumors

A basic rule of secrecy says: if you want to keep information secret, you must not share it with more than one individual – since only then you will know who leaked. This basic rule is unfortunately all too often ignored. Another rule states that information that was shared with more than two people will eventually and inevitably piece-meal out. Mandating to keep it a secret will – for some strange facet of human nature – only accelerate leakage.  Dropping somewhere “I know about X, but am not allowed to talk about it” will then rapidly trigger wild speculations, and spread, often in somewhat distorted from, i.e. as rumors – or alternative facts, to use a more modern term. That’s exactly what happens currently with what is going on at 650 Main Street. Whatever you may have heard, the following are the facts I know:

  1. WRHA projects to incur a multi-million dollar operating deficit in the fiscal year 2016/2017
  2. WRHA has been unmistakably mandated by Government to balance its operating budget in the 2017/18 fiscal year (starting Apr 1 2017).
  3. The so called “Peachey Report”, commissioned by the previous government and entitled “Provincial and Preventive Services Planning for Manitoba”, was made public last week and is accessible at:
  4. KPMG, commissioned by the current government, is currently reviewing the Health Care System in Manitoba. The final report is pending.But: at this point, nothing has been decided. Thus, I strongly recommend to all of you: do not get distracted by rumors you may hear, continue to do the great job you do for the benefit of our patients. Do not fear for your job. Be assured that good people are always needed.

What does this mean? Our health care system will not be sustainable without substantial changes in how we do business. From a taxpayer’s perspective, it seems understandable that WRHA has been mandated by Government to strictly adhere to the allotted budget in the next fiscal year. The “Peachey Report” recommends substantial changes to the Health Care System. It is therefore only responsible of WRHA leadership to explore all options; to understand from all angles, which measures might best serve to restore sustainability to the Health Care System without affecting quality of patient care. Several such planning exercises are currently ongoing aiming at a) finding the right measures to balance the budget in the next fiscal year and b) to find answers for the recommendations made in the aforementioned reports (which may take longer to implement).

I know that this cannot completely remove uncertainty, but let uncertainty not develop into insecurity and fear that paralyzes and impedes rational actions. We are in this together, try to look at whatever may come as an opportunity for all of us, continue the good work and contribute your share to make things better!

Eberhard Renner, MD