Hissan Butt is a medical student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario
I recently learned that two Canadian medical students died in the past three weeks. Little is known about the circumstances surrounding these deaths.
However, this has not stopped worried Canadian medical students from speculating about the causes of death. The speculation arises not because of a desire to gossip. Rather, I think, it stems partly from a lack of information and partly because of fear. At the time of writing, most believe that the students died by suicide. One university has acknowledged the death of one of the students, although the cause is not identified.
The silence is justified - we are told through unofficial sources – by a request from the families to respect their right to privacy. We are also told that talk might spark copying. Indeed, any decent person should want to respect the wishes of the bereaved families, to help them grieve and lighten their burden in this difficult time. There is no need for naming, but there is a need to talk. ...continue reading →
Domhnall MacAuleyis a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK.
In my capacity as Chair of the Jury for the National Research Award of the Swiss College of Primary Care Medicine, I was recently invited to give a Plenary lecture at the Early Career Researchers Academic meeting for academic primary care physicians in Bern, Switzerland. I enjoyed listening to other great speakers at the event. One was Kali Tal, a professional writer, who, in addition to her many other talents and accomplishments, works as a senior Editor, grant writer and qualitative researcher at the Institute for Primary Care Medicine at the University of Bern. Kali gave a workshop on research writing at the recent early career researchers’ group meeting.
Imagine working in a hospital where a child is admitted and kept on the wards for seven years without being allowed to see their family. Now imagine being that child, and growing up to be an adult in today’s healthcare system. Would you ever set foot in a hospital again? Would you ever trust a doctor? These are the kind of questions that come to mind while reading Medicine Unbundled: A Journey through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care, a book written by investigative journalist Gary Geddes. By travelling across Canada and interviewing Indigenous leaders, Elders, and members of a wide variety of First Nations, Geddes provides a powerful account of how Canada’s historic Indian Hospitals and Tuberculosis Sanatoriums directly and intentionally contributed to the genocide of Indigenous people. ...continue reading →
Meagan Mahoney is a pediatric intensivist at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary
Jennifer Woolfsmith is Mackenzy’s mom
Matthew Weiss is a pediatric intensivist at the Centre Mère-Enfant Soleil du CHU de Québec and medical director of organ donation at Transplant Québec
Organ donation is a gift. Not just for those who receive, but often for the families of those who give.
When 22-month-old Mackenzy Woolfsmith died suddenly and tragically in 2012, her organs saved the lives of four people. For her parents, this decision has made a lasting, positive impact on their lives, one of the few positive aspects they were able to salvage from this traumatic loss. The story of Mackenzy’s parents’ experience of organ donation as a gift received, as an integral part of end-of-life care and bereavement, is, we believe, a story that is not told often enough. ...continue reading →
Cathy Li is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at the University of Toronto
"Doctor, what do you recommend for my grandmother's pancreatic tumour?" My heart was fluttering nervously as I scribbled down his suggestions. This was the third meeting I had arranged.
Growing up, I had a very close relationship with my grandmother and lived with my grandparents until I was six years old. I received the news of her diagnosis during my third year of university. The words “intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm” haunted me and echoed incessantly in my head for days; I could neither think nor focus. The feelings of powerlessness grappled to hold me down. Yet deep down, I was aware that simply being a passive bystander would be the greatest personal defeat. With that, a new wave of resilience inundated my thoughts. ...continue reading →
Mandi Irwin is a family physician at the Nova Scotia Health Authority's Newcomer Health Clinic, in Halifax, NS
Elizabeth Munn is a medical student at Dalhousie University
Hamid Abdihalim is a medical student at Dalhousie University
Matthew Ta is a medical student at Dalhousie University
Human displacement as a consequence of war, natural disaster, civil conflict or political instability is not a new problem. The ongoing war in Syria has brought this issue into mainstream view recently. This and other protracted and escalating conflicts have resulted in the displacement of over 22.5 million refugees globally, as estimated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In 2016 alone, almost 190,000 refugees were resettled in new countries around the world. This includes resettlement in Canada, which has welcomed over 25,000 refugees from Syria .
We often fail to appreciate that once refugees arrive in their countries of resettlement, they face substantial challenges ...continue reading →
This week CMAJ published a research study looking at how peer victimization in early childhood is related to mental health problems and suicidality in adolescence. Peer victimization is a broad term that encompasses bullying. The study was published with a linked podcast that I wish I had been able to listen to a few months ago when I was trying to work out how to deal with a situation in which my younger son was being victimized. ...continue reading →
Tyler Murray is an Internal Medicine Resident (R1) at the University of British Columbia who graduated from medical school at the University of Toronto in 2017
Fortunately, I found myself starting medical school unacquainted with death. I had only been to a single funeral, all four of my grandparents were still alive, and my entire extended family was relatively free from chronic disease.
Our first exposure to death in medical school was in the anatomy lab. At the end of the first week, we were brought down to the morgue and introduced to our cadavers. A small card with a simple line about who they were hung at the foot of the table: "54y male. Cause of death: lymphoma.” Over the next two months, we became intimately familiar with these bodies. Each day, we crossed a new boundary in a process of uncomfortable, progressive desensitization. I wonder now if this was intentional. ...continue reading →
Maria Powell is an Internal Medicine Resident (R1) at the University of Calgary who graduated from medical school at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2017
Admittedly, my social histories used to consist of the same three questions: Do you smoke? Do you drink alcohol? Do you use recreational drugs? I would occasionally ask if the patient worked outside the home, or what they did for income, but the question rarely came up when reviewing consults with resident and staff physicians so I did not routinely ask about it. One thing I am sure of: I never asked whether or not the patient had a home.
During my first two years of medical school, I had lectures on the social determinants of health, and I thought I understood their importance. Yet, it was not until I did a “Health of the Homeless” elective in downtown Toronto that I truly appreciated the impact of the social determinants of health. ...continue reading →