Away from the busy foot traffic of the Medical Sciences Building and first floor of the Dr. Murray O’Neil Education Centre, students can find the Learner Equity & Wellness (LEW) offices. The offices are welcoming, quiet and calm. The location is purposeful, as it supports the confidential nature of the office activities.
LEW was created to support the psychological, financial, learning, equity and career decision-making needs of learners at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry in the medicine, dentistry and postgraduate medicine streams. It is also supports faculty to assist students who might be managing learning challenges.
The office operates as a stand-alone to protect confidentiality, working through drop-ins and referrals. Meanwhile, faculty and staff in the office work collaboratively with several other departments and groups at the School, as well as maintain relationships with Western central services and community professionals to round out its services.
The LEW team is a dedicated group. Dr. Terri Paul, associate dean, works closely with Pamela Bere, LEW manager, Drs. Michael Rieder and Donald Farquhar, assistant deans, and Margaret Wegrzyn, administrative assistant. There is a strong presence at the Windsor Program as well. Dr. Art Kidd, assistant director, and Kylie Hamilton, acting coordinator, bring LEW to Windsor Program learners.
Bere is a psychotherapist and counsellor who provides emotional, career and general advising for students. Her role is to triage issues, and determine how they can be handled. There are times when the issue can be managed internally, but sometimes concerns raised need intervention from the Undergraduate Medical Education office, the decanal team, or the University. As the administrative manager, Bere also plans initiatives and develops future activities and projects.
Bere actively engages with an appointed group of student support leaders on initiatives to strengthen the LEW mission. The teams in London and Windsor plan talks and activities focused on wellness. In the past, they have hosted speakers, brought in therapy dogs and baked cookies for students during exam periods.
The LEW office also has representation on the Hippocratic Council Student Council’s Student Affairs Committee. It is during these meetings that Bere and her colleagues are able to gain more information about the issues students are managing and through which resources they can be channeled.
LEW partners with the UME Program office and the Hippocratic Council for the Schulich Career Development Series. This group hosts presentations for students focused on a variety of topics including career management, financial management, and digital professionalism, to name a few.
The UME Accreditation is just around the corner, and the standards that have a connection to the role of the LEW office are sure to be addressed.
The standards pertain to student support for academics, personal or financial matters, equitable and fair treatment, adequate career advisory support and the management of resources for students.
Schulich Medicine UME students are first introduced to the LEW Office at their White Coat Ceremony. From activities during Orientation Week and personal invitations for private meetings to curriculum based presentations and a mentorship program, LEW is there for all medical students throughout their four years of study.