Ruth Chiu is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at McMaster University
From 1975 to 1980, over two million Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian refugees fled from Communist states to refugee camps across Asia and became known internationally as ‘Boat People.’1,2 In response to this crisis and under significant public pressure, the Canadian government accepted 60 000 Southeast Asians as government-assisted and privately sponsored refugees between 1979 and 1980.3
The exodus of Southeast Asian refugees was by no means the first of its kind in history. However, Canada’s response to this refugee crisis was unique in its magnitude from both a national and international perspective. Political drivers, such as the adoption of the more inclusive Immigration Act of 1976 and the recent election of Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Joe Clark after 16 years of Liberal rule, contributed to the unprecedented settlement of Southeast Asian refugees in Canada.4,5 Public interest in the crisis, heavily piqued by international news media, allowed for the success of the newly formalized private sponsorship program which supported two-thirds of the Boat People who settled in Canada.6,7...continue reading →
Hassan Hazari is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at Queen's University
The inclusion of arts and humanities in medical curricula has been a standard part of the student’s learning experience since the 1990s. The arts are credited with nurturing the skills and attitudes necessary for meaningful human interaction and personal development. McMaster University’s “Art of Seeing” program demonstrated that an arts-based curriculum promoted empathic development (Zazulak et al., 2017). The visual arts are a particular area of focus, as studying visual art not only has humanistic value but has also been shown to improve technical skills such as observation. Art-making (distinct from art observation) has been shown to foster humanistic and advocacy-orientated inclinations as well as promote learning in medical students (Cox et al., 2016; Courneya, 2017).
Zeenat Junaid is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at Bahria University in Pakistan
I checked his file again and looked up to see the patient with a tube hanging off his shaved head. Mr. Taj Saboor, 48 years old, had brain cancer —glioblastoma multiforme. It had been removed twice in the last six months, and each time it had returned with pugnacious insistence. If cancers were little shoots and plants, or even weeds or bushes, then glioblastoma multiform would surely be Jack's colossal beanstalk of lore spurting straight up to the sky. It is fast; it is monstrous. Even when meticulously removed, one never knows where else in the brain the beans have been strewn and where hell may again break loose. It surely is the grand master of all stealthy and lethal cancers. ...continue reading →
Beatrice Preti is an Internal Medicine Resident (R1)at Queen's University
It was the strangest of days when I met him first
Everything jumping from awful to worse
People were shouting and crying and seizing
Coughing and choking and retching and wheezing
It was nearly twelve hours before I could go home
But the attending doc called direct on my phone
And asked me, please, could I see one patient more?
Well, I couldn’t say no, so I went back to the floor
And met him there, though, then, he was alive, But looking so dead I knew he hadn’t long to survive Yet I took the history, and wrote everything thing down
Signed the orders, made the calls, and finished my rounds
Tucked him in for the night, and was just about to leave
When he said to me, “Doc? How much time do I have, please?” ...continue reading →
Dr. James Maskalyk describes emergencies “as a sign of life taking care of itself” in his most recent memoir, Life on the Ground Floor. Throughout his book, the reader is left to wonder what exactly Maskalyk means by this. It is an ominous phrase that, at first glance, reads more like a repackaged “survival of the fittest” for emergency departments. However, through deft and emotional storytelling, Maskalyk urges us to look beyond this stark message of Darwinism and see that emergencies are the purest form of life helping life, or “life taking care of itself”. ...continue reading →
Stéphanie Benoît is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Ottawa
AiLi Wang is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Ottawa
What is medicine? It is much more than learning to diagnose and treat diseases. It has physical and mental components—factual and intuitive aspects. Its definition is complex and multi-factorial. Medicine is an art in all its forms.
Speaking of the arts… The Anatomy Colouring Book was a project first envisioned by Dr. Alireza Jalali as a way for medical students to study anatomy creatively. Stéphanie and AiLi, two medical students known for their interest in bridging science and the arts, were recruited and given an opportunity to re-imagine the human body as an œuvre d'art. They both worked during their first year of clerkship to develop drawings that would accurately capture the anatomical body as well as bring imagination and creativity to paper. Though challenging, the process of creating the illustrations was a way to pursue their passion for art while contributing to their peers’ learning opportunities. ...continue reading →
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’sBeing 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 →
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 →
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 →