COVID-19 Update #9 - March 31 - A message of thanks

Dear faculty, staff and learners,

If the past two weeks have proven anything to me, it’s that the capacity of our Schulich Medicine & Dentistry community to work together supporting our students and learners, people in our community and one another prevails no matter the situation.

Certainly, none of us expected that our lives would change so much in such a short time, and that we would have to continuously adjust to an ever-changing situation and the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Thank you for all that you are doing to adapt to a new normal.

During the past 14 days, teams at the School have:

  • Successfully moved classes online
  • Transitioned the medicine and dentistry admissions interviews online
  • Coordinated with the provincial regulatory and national colleges for the graduation of MD and DDS/ITD programs
  • Recalibrated our administrative operations and established guidelines and policies to support people’s work
  • Worked with the University to identify individuals who require ongoing access to campus
  • Continued to support faculty and residents with their clinical workload and emotional wellbeing
  • Identified a short-term accommodation option for physicians and residents who are at the frontlines of providing care
  • Adapted to new ways to treat our patients, taking extra precautions to prevent infection transmission
  • Responded to a call from our hospitals to donate PPE and identified donations from our research labs and across the University
  • Established regular COVID-19 communication for our School community and a platform for information in alignment with the University, hospitals and the public health unit

This has taken significant coordination and I want to thank everyone for their contributions in continuing to advance the mission of our School.

I know the changes you are experiencing are often accompanied with frustration and I want to thank you for your patience as the School’s Senior Leadership Council (SLC) works through the daily challenges before us.

I want to assure you that the School’s SLC is actively working to find solutions to the ongoing issues related to COVID-19 as they arise. We are meeting as a team several times a week and daily, if needed, and I am also meeting with the University’s leadership team and my fellow deans regularly.

There is still more work for us to do. Ensuring the continued safety and wellbeing of our clinical teams and the training of our residents/students is a priority. We are working closely with our hospital partners and other Canadian medical schools on this.

On March 26, we learned that spring convocation has been postponed. This was a difficult decision for our President to make, but we agree that it is in the best interests of the health of our community.

I know that this is disappointing for our students, and I wanted to let you know that we are looking at ways to recognize the tremendous efforts of our students and hope to have more information to share with you soon.

In the coming days and weeks, we are also working to:

  • Finalize the online exam process
  • Confirm how to meet the specific needs of our medicine and dentistry programs to ensure those students can continue to progress and complete their programs
  • Establish additional supports for our clinical teams and residents and finalize the launch of the Schulich Wellbeing Program Interim Pandemic Model, along with finalizing the recruitment of wellbeing leaders from every single clinical medical department, through the Office of Faculty Affairs and with the support and endorsement of SLC
  • Finalize the appointment of two roles to support the wellness of clinical teams
  • Support residents and faculty with redeployment of their clinical work

With any challenging situation, there are positive stories that arise that give us hope. Not surprisingly, many members of our School community are at the centre of these stories.

If you have a moment, you can read more about medical students collecting PPE and offering free childcare, errand running for our clinical colleagues; Dr. Tarek Loubani’s effort to create a template for 3D-printed medical supplies, specifically face-shields and sterilizable stethoscopes; Dr. Fabio Salerno, a graduate trainee, who has returned to his home country of Italy to help the care teams there deal with the crisis; and the funding from CIHR to support the development of a COVID-19 vaccine; and watch the videos shared from people in the community saluting our clinical teams.

Finally, I want to let you know that the Dean’s Office of the School remains open virtually. And our leadership team can be reached by phone (519.661.2111, ext. 89258). Please don’t hesitate to contact me or any member of the Dean’s Office, should a question or need arise.

I hope you are all staying well. I want to remind you of the resources available to you at any time. These include:

Learner Experience – for medicine and dentistry students and residents
Western Student Experience – for BMSc and graduate students
Workplace Health – for staff and non-clinical faculty
Faculty Affairs – please email or call 519.661.2111, ext. 88867 – for clinical faculty

I look forward to sending you another update next week.


Acting Dean, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

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