Greetings all new and returning graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
I trust you are all excited with the start of this academic year. For many of you, starting graduate school at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life. The years that you will spend on campus and in the lab will prove to be memorable, full of discovery and overall, very rewarding. With so many new ideas and opportunities to explore, it will be important for you to focus on accomplishing the objectives of your programs so that you can achieve your identified career goals.
You will find that networking is an important and necessary part of your studies at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. Not only because of the mentorship and new collaborative opportunities you may be able to forge, but for the friendship and lifelong connections you can develop with fellow graduate trainees, researchers and faculty members.
There are colleagues, peer groups, mentors and formally organized opportunities for exploring the professional and networking options that will be vital to explore. Some of these opportunities will be through events at the School, the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, or others at national or international meetings. Make the most of all of these.
We are aware that this can be a stressful time. It’s not uncommon for trainees to express this as a concern. Finding your ‘balance’ in graduate school may not come immediately to you, but it is something you should actively try to attain as a means of setting order and prioritizing your personal needs.
One thing to consider is that what ‘works’ for some people, may not work for you—and that is okay. Although some perform very well under pressure, those with life balance and personal wellness are more innovative and creative more of the time. If you are feeling overwhelmed, there are resources to help you regain your balance: your supervisor; your advisory committee members; the Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and the counsellors at the Student Success Centre each can help—depending on the specific issue and the depth of the problem.
Of course, sometimes professional services are needed and we urge you to seek assistance and help if you are feeling distressed. Taking time to reflect on your own wellness is important and should not be ignored.
In research, you have a great opportunity to make a difference, be in a field that you enjoy, and have the potential for personal lifelong satisfaction. I wish you all success in your programs, and remember that the Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs is here to provide advice and assist you in your endeavours.
Doug L. Jones, BSc, MSc, PhD, F.A.C.C., F.C.C.S.
Vice-Dean, Basic Medical Sciences