Ever wish you could ask a wise, kind, approachable Student Affairs Dean something without having to admit the question was yours? Maybe you think it’s cringe-worthy; maybe you feel like you should know the answer already; maybe you think you will be judged; maybe you’re sure you are the only medical trainee on the planet ever to have felt this way, and you need confirmation now.
Enter Dear Dr. Horton, a new feature on the CMAJ Blog. Send the anonymous questions that keep you up at night to a real former Dean of Medical Student Affairs, Dr. Jillian Horton, and get the perspective you need with no fear of judgment (rest assured, though — Student Affairs Deans in Canada are all really great people, and not only have they heard it all, but they take on these decidedly unglamorous, 24-hour call jobs because they really, really care about learners).
Submit your questions anonymously through this form, and if your question is appropriate for the column, expect an answer within a few weeks! ...continue reading →
Julian Nguyen is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at McGill University
Monday morning; flu season. The attending respirologist has spent the whole weekend on call battling the symptoms of influenza, likely caught from one of our many afflicted patients. Swallowing a Tamiflu pill, he tells me how—despite a hectic shift in the emergency room—he managed to complete a major grant application for his next research project. His voice is hoarse from coughing and exhaustion lies around the corner, yet his determination to carry on is unshaken. I admire his fortitude while hating myself for lacking his sense of sacrifice.
Michel Foucault, in his seminal Naissance de la clinique (The Birth of the Clinic), highlights the primordial role physicians occupy in a society predicated on science. He sees in physicians (and priests) “les héritiers naturels des deux plus visibles missions de l’Église — la consolation des âmes et l’allègement des souffrances” (the natural heirs of the two most visible missions of the Church — the consolation of souls and the lessening of suffering). Western society’s obsession with youth and health has elevated physicians beyond mere technicians to all-encompassing healers, increasing the burden placed on aspiring doctors. ...continue reading →
Austin Lam is a medical student at the University of Toronto
We often hear and use the term “patient-centred care” without having a precise definition in mind. In order to elucidate the meaning of this term, it is important to analyze the concept lying at its centre: the patient. What does it mean to be a patient? What is the core, essential definition of patient?
Some have argued for patient to be replaced with a different term. As someone who has undergone surgeries myself, I have reflected on the meaning of this word and its associated implications. My hope is that this preliminary analysis can help provide directions for future questions, emphasizing an open exploration rather than closing off areas of discussion. ...continue reading →
Abhishek Gupta is a research and medical sub-intern at CAMH who graduated from the Windsor University School of Medicine
The controversial debate over cannabis legalization has concluded on an official level, legally placing the drug in the hands of the Canadian public. Very soon, anyone over the age of 19 will be able to walk into a store and obtain it for personal consumption.
For mental health professionals, some aspects of this decriminalization effort are appealing. Conventional marijuana is often laced with far more dangerous substances leading to highly dangerous health outcomes. Furthermore, individuals with substance abuse issues are more likely to seek professional help when the consequences of drug possession are milder. Much like needle exchange sites, this move towards legalization provides consumers with a safer alternative for addressing their cravings for cannabis. ...continue reading →
Sarina Lalla is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at McMaster University
When McMaster medical students learn about medical conditions in a problem-based setting, we frequently use the mnemonic “DEEPICT” (Definition, Epidemiology, Etiology, Prognosis, Investigations, Clinical presentations, Treatment) to approach them. Medical schools focus on teaching students about these important aspects of diseases; with time and practice, this information can be retained and applied by students to make them better clinicians.
However, there is also value in understanding a disease through the eyes of patients. More specifically, it is critical to recognize how facing an illness and navigating the healthcare system impacts their lives. Patients are the experts on their own experiences, and the knowledge they can present in the form of stories can teach us a lot. While we learn how to interpret information in the form of bloodwork and imaging, patients present first and foremost with a story. ...continue reading →
Bader Alamri is an Internal Medicine Resident (R3) at Dalhousie University
Since 1978, more than 4,500 Saudi physicians and surgeons have been trained and have provided healthcare in Canada. These individuals have trained and practiced at many university hospitals across Canada over the past forty years, working within a very wide range of specialties—from general residency training to subspecialty fellowships, as well as very specific areas of research and clinical interest .
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada (RC) recently signed a Master Executive Agreement with the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS) to increase and improve the quality of training in Saudi Arabia, which reflects the long-standing relationship between the two parties . In fact, the current SCFHS CEO is himself a Canadian-trained gastroenterologist at the University of British Columbia, and the current CEO of RC is a hematologist who established the first bone marrow transplant program in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. ...continue reading →
Katherine Atkinson is a PhD student at the Karolinska Institutet in the Department of Public Health Science.
Cameron Bell has a B. Eng from McGill and is the lead technical architect for the CANImmunize project.
Kumanan Wilson is a physician and senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital, Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, and lead at the Ottawa Hospital mHealth Lab
As they accumulate their “10,000 hours” of caring for patients or examining the health system, health care providers and researchers often come up with great ideas on how the system could be improved. The advent of digital technologies and mobile apps has helped to tear down the barriers to introducing these newly devised solutions and created opportunities for a new breed of medical entrepreneurs. You may want to build an app that will help you get critical information to your patients because you know this is why they are having trouble staying healthy. Or perhaps you want to empower them to manage their own health care by tracking aspects of their health. Or maybe you have an idea that could allow physicians to do simple diagnostic tests at the bedside using smartphones.
Dr. Sarita Verma, Vice President of Education at the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), notes that this ideal — providing compassionate care that is sensitive to patients’ values, as well as the integrity and nature of the physician-patient relationship — resonates quite strongly with Canadian medical students as well. ...continue reading →
Arnav Agarwal is an Internal Medicine Resident (R1) at the University of Toronto. Check back the last Thursday of each month for a new featured piece as part of his series (Doc Talks: Reflections to Reality)!
Arnav Agarwal, CC3. I starkly recall etching those three words as I signed off on my first clinical note on a warm September morning. I wish this could be in pencil, I remember thinking. The idea of permanently associating my identity with a patient’s story and offering a proposed impression and plan felt outlandish — I barely had my own impression and plan figured out. How was I going to help patients and make a difference when I could hardly find my way to the right area of the hospital for my first day? And, a more weighted question: could I really practice medicine?
Indeed, the two years that followed were defined by gruelling academic intensity unparalleled by the prior two years of pre-clerkship. A rigorous clinical schedule was now paired with the expectation to prove theoretical capabilities every six to eight weeks. Uncountable sleepless overnight shifts on-call were matched by long days and weekend shifts. The unwavering anticipation of new learning experiences was paralleled by the uncomfortable sense of needing to constantly impress those around us and hold our own in a seemingly foreign environment. ...continue reading →
Kevin Lam is a third-year medical student at McMaster University
Lawrence Loh is Associate Medical Officer of Health at Peel Region, Ontario, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Suburbs, and later exurbs, became central to the Canadian lifestyle during the automobile boom in the 1960s and 1970s. Cars were sold as the future and urban planners created suburban neighbourhoods that quickly became the primary venue where people lived and learned. Suburbs were touted to be cleaner and safer spaces, far away from “derelict” urban cores, where people went only to go to work. From this idyllic image, suburban built environments have since developed various distinct characteristics, typically defined by "commercial strips, low density, separated land uses, automobile dominance, and a minimum of public open space."
Having reshaped many cities in North America, the suburban model has gone global. Around the world, the suburban forms of major cities such as Mississauga (Toronto), Surrey (Vancouver), Limert Park (Los Angeles), Footscray (Melbourne), and Prospect Park South (New York) share these similar characteristics. But it’s becoming clear that suburban living doesn’t necessarily promote wellbeing. In fact, urban sprawl is not healthy. ...continue reading →