ASPA Member Highlight – Sherry Pederson, Manager, Undergraduate Medical Education, College of Medicine

Written by Karen E. Mosier

Sherry Pederson has a BA in Psychology from the University of Regina, and has worked for the University of Saskatchewan for 25 years. She started in a contract position with Student Career & Employment assisting university graduates to find jobs through subsidized 3, 6 and 12 month placements. She managed the government contract, as well as budget and work placements. She then moved for 2 years into SESD to help with first year orientation, followed by a maternity leave position as an Academic Advisor in Kinesiology. When the maternity leave ended, Kinesiology created a position for her enhancing the first year program for Kinesiology. She moved to take a position in the College of Education managing their undergrad program, remaining in that role for 10 years before transitioning to special projects for the Dean in the College of Medicine in February 2, 2015 and now managing the Undergraduate Medical Education program.

As the Manager of the Undergraduate Medical Education program, she is in charge of 35 staff members. Her portfolio includes staff from various areas in the College of Medicine; student services curriculum team, academic support team, and the teams that manage pre-clerkship (1 & 2 Years) and clerkship (3 & 4 Years) of the doctorate of medicine program. It is also her responsibility to manage policies & procedures related to accreditation standards for undergraduate medical education, the undergraduate medical education budget and oversee human resources for UGME, in addition to managing the undergrad bursaries and awards.

Sherry has always been thankful to be a University of Saskatchewan employee. She feels that it was a fantastic place to raise her family while allowing her to engage in challenging employment opportunities. She feels the university recognized her unofficial degrees and the resources that they made available to learn the systems, policies and procedures on campus, as evidenced by a gradual increase in level of responsibility. This allowed her to greatly expand her skill set and provided a lot of opportunity. 

What Sherry likes the most about her job is that no two days are the same as she has such a diverse portfolio. Sherry will always be thankful for the opportunity to work in the College of Medicine. When she took that position, her daughter was a second year student and the new role gave her a chance to understand the medical student journey. There is a completely different structure and system to teach medical students, not the typical 9 to 5 teaching environment. This opportunity was very special to her and was one of her highlights of coming to the COM. Sherry believes, “The relationships that you create when you work with and or support someone are priceless.” Now when she works with Student Services, Kinesiology, COM, and other central supports like ICT, she feels one of her greatest strengths is her precious and current relationships with people across campus. Sherry adds, “We are a small city and it is good to get to know the people in our city.”

Sherry strongly advocates that you must roll up your sleeves in order to be a good people leader. She admonishes, “If leaders don’t lead by example then you have nothing.” Her experiences as a young mom on campus to one with a daughter entering medical school help her as she assists others through the process. She cautions that we should never forget that new students aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of applying for medical school or the basic steps for navigating the programs. Sherry adds that the cycle is repeating itself as her sister’s daughter is now applying for admission to the U of S. Every stage in her journey, keeping her own experiences in mind, has been a reminder to her to be patient, kind, thorough and resourceful for people. She emphasizes that in her role she is here to help people and provide support for others.

Sherry has been an ASPA member since she started on campus. This has allowed her to take other ASPA roles with increasing responsibilities. She is thankful for the networking opportunities with other ASPA members and for her APDA funds which have opened many doors. She regularly attends the Canadian Medical Education conferences and previously the Academic Advisors national conference. Recently she took a professional development course through the Edwards School of Business on Leadership. These experiences have given her a view of her field across North America, to see not only how very different academic institutions are but to see their similarities and be exposed to new ways of doing things. 

Sherry encourages all ASPA members to think bigger. She encourages, “I don’t feel like there is a better place to work than the University of Saskatchewan. ASPA roles in particular, if you don’t like what you are doing, give you the opportunity to look around campus. If you need a change or you are bored or tired, apply for a new job. There are lots of opportunities on campus.”

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