Scarborough Academy of Medicine's inaugural director has deep ties to local community

Portrait of Dr. Caroline Chan in an operating room
Caroline Chan is an emergency room physician with the Scarborough Health Network (photo by M. Baehr/SHN)

Erin Howe

The Temerty Faculty of Medicine’s MD Program has marked an important milestone in the lead-up to the opening of the new Scarborough Academy of Medicine and Integrated Health (SAMIH) in 2026.  

Caroline Chan has been named the inaugural academy director of Scarborough Academy of Medicine (SAM). The announcement was made by Marcus Law, Associate Dean of the MD Program and Samir Grover, Executive Vice President, Education at Scarborough Health Network (SHN) earlier this month. 

Chan is an emergency room physician at SHN, where she is also simulation co-lead for faculty development in her department and a clinical operations research co-lead. She has taught learners across the spectrum of medical education. 

In this new role, Chan will oversee academic and administrative operations at SAM. She will also help advance undergraduate medical education in Scarborough in collaboration with the University of Toronto (U of T), SHN, and Michael Garron Hospital. 

SAM will be the MD Program’s fifth academy. Academies are a unique feature of U of T’s MD Program and provide a home for students and are comprised of clusters of the University’s affiliated hospitals and health care sites. 

Chan recently spoke to writer Erin Howe about her plans as she prepares for her new position to begin in mid-May. 

What are you most excited about as you begin this new role? 

I'm excited to help build something new. At SAM, I can help students excel academically, build a community, and have a wider positive impact.  

I want to foster an environment that nurtures collaboration, critical thinking and curiosity so our learners can reach their full potential and become well-equipped to navigate the medical profession. 

What does Scarborough mean to you?  

My father is a family physician and worked in Scarborough for more than 40 years. I used to shadow him and got to meet some of his patients. When I was younger, he even brought me to take your daughter to work day. Scarborough always been a part of my life. 

Before studying medicine, I did an undergraduate degree and a master's in industrial engineering at U of T. My research focus was on healthcare systems. 

After graduating, I worked at Scarborough Health Network (back then, it was the Scarborough General Hospital and Birchmount Hospital) as an industrial engineer in the emergency department. My job was to see how we could improve the process flow in the emergency department. While I was in that role, I could see how the committed the staff were to the community. 

I decided to go back to school to study medicine at U of T and returned to SHN for my Family and Community Medicine residency.  After completing my Emergency Medicine fellowship, I chose to come back to Scarborough for my point of care ultrasound fellowship. I’ve continued to work here as staff ever since.  

What do you enjoy most about your work in Scarborough? 

I enjoy being part of the care for the Scarborough community, which has a large immigrant population.  

Often, we see people who don’t know how to access care. We also see how the social determinants of health impact many people’s lives in this part of the city. By the time someone arrives at the hospital, they may be very sick. We see a wide range of situations, and there's a lot of complexity in the medicine. It challenges me to think outside the box and be creative because there aren’t always simple solutions.  

I also love my emergency department colleagues. They're outstanding. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I watched them all rally together. They’re responsive, committed to caring for patients and to helping one another. 

What do you enjoy about working in emergency medicine? 

I get to problem solve and piece things together. I think part of this comes from my engineering background — I love to analyze things, arrive at a diagnosis and make plans to help my patients.  

It’s also wonderful to meet people from all walks of life. 

What does Temerty Medicine mean to you? 

U of T holds a special place in my heart. I did my training before the advent of virtual learning and sat with my classmates every day before clerkship. Some of my best friends are people I met during medical school. We went through a lot together. As well, my father is a U of T grad, so I’m continuing his legacy, too.  

The way I practice medicine today is the result of what I learned at U of T and from the mentors, teachers, peers and patients I met along the way. My role at SAM feels like coming home. 

When you're not working, what do you enjoy doing in your downtime? 

 I love spending time with my family and friends. I also love to travel and explore the world, and I really like to quilt. I like using modern designs and have made things for my friends and some of the kids in my life. It’s one of the ways I regroup and recharge. I also like to sing and was part of an all-women physician’s choir called Voices Rock Medicine. Together, we performed on Canada's Got Talent