Student Humanities Blog

The Canadian Association for Health Humanities, which will be launched at the Creating Spaces Conference in Halifax, April 27–28, 2018, is seeking nominations for the inaugural Executive Committee. Positions include President, Vice President/President-elect, Treasurer, and Secretary/Communications.

 

This dynamic executive committee will create policies and direction to foster the growth and development of our new national, health humanities organization. A lot has already been accomplished thanks to the diligent work of our colleagues, students and friends. Over 1000 people have attended our annual Creating Space conference since its inception eight years ago. We have funding for three years from Associated Medical Services, which is being used in part for start-up costs, including administrative support. The CAHH website is also operating and a conditional constitution has been posted for members’ review. ...continue reading

Austin Lam is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at the University of Toronto

 

I remember the final oral examination for my Phenomenology course at McGill University. I was nearing completion of my undergraduate degree, yet I remained uncertain as to whether I had been accepted to medical school or not. My professor, who knew of my aspirations, presented me with a poignant question after the exam: “What does it mean to care in healthcare?”  We had studied Heidegger’s Being and Time (BT) during the course, in which Heidegger developed a nuanced, intricate, and memorable illustration of Care.

This powerful question has stayed with me through the fledgling stages of my medical training. ...continue reading

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Sunjit Parmar is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of British Columbia

 

 

A withering mind:
As this body crawls forth to die
My soul still marches forth and thrives.
With each passing breath
I move further from life;
Yet this soul somehow survives.
None can halt the decay—
No person, no bribe.
And still, ever-growing, ever so alive
I now realize I have lived a lie ...continue reading

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Maggie Hulbert is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at Queen's University

 

The Unravelling
(Broadview Press, 2017)

Graphic novels have emerged from the field of medical humanities as a powerful medium for telling stories — particularly stories of mental illness. Ellen Forney and David B. are two recent, best-selling graphic novelists who write about their experiences with mental illness and have broken ground for many new artists to carve their place in the mental health graphic novel genre. Clem and Olivier Martini, brothers and authors of The Unravelling, also deserve recognition as graphic novel trailblazers. The Unravelling is the second book that touches on their family’s experience with Olivier’s diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, this book also centres on their mother, Catherine — Olivier’s caretaker and roommate — who is rapidly losing her independence and cognitive abilities at age 89. It is a personal and emotional account of caregiving, as well as an angry lament of the state of Canada’s healthcare system for the mentally ill and ageing. ...continue reading

Marc Levin is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at McMaster University

 

I was always an active kid growing up. In high school, I attended an all-boys prep school. The curriculum was based on the old British system; accordingly, rugby was our main sport. Much to my mother’s dismay and my father’s delight, I started playing rugby in grade nine and went on to play at an international age-grade level.

Rugby was exhilarating. It provided me with a unique opportunity to develop communication skills, passion, emotion, work ethic, and resilience. It gave me the chance to experience raw moments of leadership and comradery. ...continue reading

Lorenzo Madrazo is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Ottawa

 

 

 

Murmurs.
Grade 3 out of 6 systolic—
A harsh tone
I listened to carefully.
Yet I failed to hear
the wearied decrescendo of your sighs;
the pain colouring your voice. ...continue reading

Hong Yu (Andrew) Su is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Western University

Jessica Chin is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Western University

Matthew Greenacre is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Western University

 

 

John is a fictitious name given to an elderly gentleman that myself and some of my colleagues visited on a regular basis. John may be one person, but his situation mirrors that of many, many more across the country. In that sense, therefore, John represents not just himself, but a much greater social predicament. This is John’s story. ...continue reading

Ariane Litalien is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at McGill University

 

I was about halfway through my second year as a medical student at McGill University when—for a variety of health-related reasons—life decided I needed to take a break from my studies. I packed up my short white coat, Littmann stethoscope, and practice suturing tools in a square box, wrote “transition to clerkship” in tidy Sharpie letters on the top flap, and started looking for a full-time job.

Like Vancouver and a handful of European countries, Montreal’s public health agency (CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal) was on the verge of opening four supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users across the city. Given my professional experience related to social work and HIV, I decided to apply for a position as an outreach worker. ...continue reading

Sahil Sharma is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at Western University

 

Nearing the end of my first year in Medical School, I am amazed by the wealth of knowledge acquired during such a short time. There have even been several moments throughout the year where picturing myself as a fully licensed physician seemed slightly less daunting. I have become comfortable with routine physicals, certain diagnoses, different drugs, and management of a wide range of illnesses. I have no doubt I will encounter each of these facets of healthcare during my career. However, there is one unavoidable aspect of medicine that has been discussed very little: death.

The discussion of death is, understandably, quite sensitive; thus, discussing it with such a diverse demographic of students requires a certain amount of skill and reserve. But after learning about concepts such as palliative care and patient-physician relationships, it seems unjust to gloss over one of the most vital roles of a physician — the ability to comfort patients in their most troubling times. ...continue reading

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Sondos Zayed is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at McGill University

 

Raised in an impoverished household, Ms. K was married off at a young age to a man decades her senior. As the years passed, the abuse her husband inflicted upon her escalated until she began fearing for her life. She spent years saving money and meticulously planning her escape, though her departure also meant abandoning her family to the mercy of her husband’s wrath. She eventually sought refuge in Québec, Canada.

With no real proof of identity, she was imprisoned for months upon arrival. Once released, with neither connections nor funds, she was directed to the YMCA Residence (which in 2010 had come to an agreement with the ...continue reading