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It’s the most wonderful time of the year – let’s work to make it the best year ever

“At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”  Maya Angelou

As we are ramping up for a new academic year I am hoping that you had the opportunity to recharge and re-energize by spending time with family and friends and perhaps see new sights. Highlights for me included being with my grandchildren and a trip to Brazil where I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Iguazu Falls.
Truly Awesome.

Coming back refreshed is an opportunity for a new beginning…

Over the previous year, our deans, student affairs deans, undergraduate medical education and postgraduate medical education deans have raised concerns about the ongoing issue of our challenging medical education learning environment. We continue to have too many reports of student harassment and abuse. According to the 2019 AFMC Graduation Questionnaire 58.3% of respondents indicated that they personally experienced mistreatment.  

Faculties of Medicine all have a system for reporting inappropriate behaviours of faculty members, preceptors and staff yet learners continue to hesitate to report. Those brought to Faculty leadership are managed but often in a completely confidential manner such that the victim and their supporters do not know what the repercussions were.

We have received reports of unfair and inappropriate faculty behaviors around the resident match: from unacceptable personal questions during interviews, asking for documentation beyond that agreed to in the current process and programs making promises to students that they then don’t end up ranking.

Our clinical environments have become so complex with more accountability in areas such as electronic medical records, patient volumes and wait times. I have personally seen a physician frustrated with a system issue literally take it out on a learner such that I had to intervene.

How can our learners become compassionate caring clinicians if we treat them like this? We need to be reminded that we are the role models. We are being watched and we will continue to be imitated. The only way to decrease these negative experiences is to ensure that we all do our part to positively influence the culture of the institutions in which we work and they learn.

It is clear that this issue extends beyond faculty professors and clinical preceptors. We need to engage our colleagues in all health professions, hospital staff and the learners themselves each of which contribute to these issues.

Imagine a future where our clinical working environments, focused on compassionate quality care, also pledged to provide a compassionate quality learning environment with respect for all. I hope that our national partners will help us work on strategies to help individuals, units, departments, care facilities and faculties make this dream a reality.

Let’s work to make it the best year ever.