SASKATOON -- The provincial head of pediatrics has changed again, for the third time in six months.

Dr. Ronald Siemens tendered his resignation effective Dec. 31, 2019, saying that his "passion lies in clinical medicine" and that he will be returning to work in pediatric emergency this month.

Dr. Athena McConnell was named interim head effective Jan. 1.

In a statement released by the College of Medicine, Dean Preston Smith said the department of pediatrics will continue uninterrupted during this transition and the search for a new permanent provincial head is underway.

Siemens was appointed as interim head of pediatrics in June 2019, following the abrupt dismissal of long-time head Laurence Givelichian, who told CTV news he was terminated without cause. Siemens' appointment was for one year.

Givelichian's termination sparked controversy within the Saskatchewan Health Authority. In a pediatrics departmental meeting held on May 22, 2019 the minutes show how some pediatric physicians said they don't feel safe and have lost trust in the SHA following Givelichian's dismissal.

In the meeting minutes, Smith told doctors that a clause in Givelichian's contract, allowing either party to terminate the contract without cause, does not exist in the other pediatricians’ contracts and no one was at risk of losing their job.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Susan Shaw said in the same meeting that the reason for Givelichian's removal is confidential and will not be shared, but did say it revolved around leadership problems.

A Martensville woman, Lisa Glines, started a petition calling for Givelichian's resinstatement. Glines told CTV News she has four "medically complex children" who were cared for by Givelichian, and she called on the Ministry of Health to investigate this termination.

The SHA said it could not discuss Givelichian's firing because it is a personnel matter.

While he was removed as head of pediatrics, Givelichian stayed with the SHA as neonatologist in Saskatoon.

He said he was also staying on as a board member with the Jim Pattison Children's Hospital Foundation.