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Health, Humanity and Hope

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us all to focus on what really matters. Our health, the health of our loved ones, and the health of society. I am quite proud of the Canadian federal, provincial and municipal governments for their actions aligned with public health recommendations to flatten, if not plank, the curve. They have made difficult decisions in a reasonable timeline to protect all Canadians.

This crisis has led to a tremendous amount of clarity. First, that medical students are students, not yet health care professionals, and in a moment of crisis, they must be kept away and kept safe. Our residents however, are physicians, who have taken the Hippocratic oath, and must, like all other physicians, be at the front lines to provide the care that is so needed at this moment in time. They are health care providers first, learners second. Finally, the priority of all physicians, regardless of how they usually spend their time, must be on patient care. All other academic activities must take second place.

What has been astonishing to me in the last few weeks is the extraordinary leadership of our deans of medicine. With their teams they are supporting their learners, be they graduate students, post docs, medical students or residents transitioning to their new virtual learning environments or to the front line of the pandemic. Their ability to make important decisions quickly, not only locally but collectively at a national level, is very impressive.

I am so appreciative of all our medical regulators across the country who have shown flexibility in the criteria that will allow students to start residency and residents to start practice without having taken national examinations.

As always, the most impressive members of our community are our students. Although they are currently kept away from healthcare teams, our medical students have found other ways of helping our health care community either by volunteering to work with local public health authorities, to support healthcare workers who may need help with childcare or other activities of daily living that allow them to work.

For my part, I will give blood, volunteer at our local COVID-19 Assessment Centre and continue my clinical duties as a pediatric emergency medicine specialist. Most of all, I will continue to support the work of our leaders in academic medicine to ensure we do our part for our learners, faculty and staff across Canada during this most difficult time.

Moving forward, it is clear what we must do. To maintain our health, we must practice physical distancing, wash our hands and stay home as much as possible. Our humanity will shine through with each act of kindness towards our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. My hope is that by all of us taking these actions, Canada will be given a fighting chance.

Stay well. Stay strong.