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Yousif Atwan, Medicine Class of 2017, reflects on the success of the CFMS AGM



Friday, October 16, 2015

About 160 student leaders from across the country gathered for the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Windsor on September 18-20 – with 27 delegates from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

The official agenda got underway on the Friday morning with opening remarks by Dr. Michael J. Strong, dean, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. Students were touched by Dr. Strong's remarks due to his history growing up in the local area, as well as his previous role on the CFMS Executive as the CFMS President while he was attending medical school at Queen's University. He encouraged students to take leadership roles in their schools, communities, provisional and national organizations to advocate for patients, students and education as a whole – especially during these times of political changes. Current MD/PhD cuts, residency position cuts as well as Ontario Healthcare cuts – provide student leaders with an opportunity to stand up and advocate for what they believe is right. This talk resonated with students throughout the weekend and was very well received.

Dr. Gerry Cooper, associate dean of the Windsor Program, provided a wonderful welcome to students and reminded everyone of his days in northern Ontario, which was appreciated by the Northern Ontario School of Medicine representatives (many let me know that they appreciated the shout out afterwards). He provided an excellent summary of what is available to students at Schulich Medicine and the opportunities that students from across the country have by working and/or studying at our institution. Great points all around and students later asked me many questions about the program.

During the weekend, we had the honour of hosting a great number of high profile guests from out of town as well. These included:

  • Dr. Geneviève Moineau – President/CEO of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC)
  • Dr. Cindy Forbes – President of Canadian Medical Association
  • John Gallinger – Chief Executive Officer, CaRMS
  • Dr. Ivy Oandasan – Director of Education, College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)
  • Irving Gold – Executive Director, Resident Doctors of Canada
  • Dr. Thomas McLaughlin – President, Resident Doctors of Canada
  • Colin Leslie – Editor, Medical Post
  • Monica Staley – Regional Vice President of Cancer Services, Windsor Regional Hospital

This was a phenomenal number of guests, each of whom brought forward great remarks about Windsor and Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. They were happy to join together with students from across the country and present them with updates as well as opportunities for collaboration and support on numerous topics and issues.

A large part of the AGM involves students gathering in small and/or large groups to discuss various issues affecting students across the country. These issues incorporate topics ranging from school-specific education to national issues affecting all medical students. The purpose of this set up is to provide students the opportunity to share their experiences at their respective schools and bring forth ideas that may support their colleague schools. It is amazing the quality of discussion that came from these meetings, and ideas will now be brought forward to national committees and organizations to better serve students at the national level (i.e. the initiation of AFMC Student Portal was ignited by small group discussions at previous AGMs).
Students were also able to discuss local issues such as the role of mentorship, research, and student wellness at their respective schools. This allowed students to learn from one another and bring back unique ideas back to their respective faculties.

Another portion of the AGM included the election of the new CFMS Executive Council. In the past, these elections had minimal nominees due to their national magnitude. At this AGM in Windsor, the election period was slated for two hours. It resulted in a five-hour period with more than 35 nominees for the 12 positions available – the most candidates at a CFMS election. Fortunately, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry came out with two students nominated within the CFMS Executive Council: Han Yan (Meds 2017) & myself (Meds 2017). We hope this will be a great bridge built for all Schulich Medicine students and will give us the opportunity to not only serve the over 8,000 medical students across the country, but also learn how to better serve our Schulich Medicine colleagues.

The 2015/16 CFMS Executive includes:

  • President: Anthea Girdwood (University of Ottawa)
  • Past President: Bryce Durafourt (Queen's University)
  • VP Medical Education: Nebras Warsi (McGill University)
  • VP Communications: Carl White Ulysse (McGill University)
  • VP Finance: Franco Rizzuti (University of Calgary)
  • VP Student Affairs: Marie-Pier Bastrash (McGill University)
  • VP Global Health: Golden Gao (University of British Columbia)
  • VP Government Affairs: Jessica Harris (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Atlantic Regional Representative: Anthony Maher (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
  • Quebec Regional Representative: Emily Hodgson (McGill University)
  • Ontario Regional Representatives: Yousif Atwan (Western University) and Han Yan (Western University)
  • Western Regional Representative: Emily Macphail (University of Calgary) and Fatemah Ramazani (University of Alberta)

Fun fact: Two other executive members (including the new President) completed their undergraduate studies at Western.

This event brought positive attention to our institution, the City of Windsor and our students. Many of the students that arrived from across the country had never been to Windsor or learned about Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. This brought them a great perspective and I hope it leaves a positive impact for years to come at our School.  

Finally, I am very thankful for all the support provided from the School and all our great sponsors. This event would not have been possible without everyone who supported it. The former and current CFMS Executive were so delighted with the weekend and I can't begin to tell you about the numerous compliments we received as a School. Some other schools even indicated their ambitions for hosting this event in the future and requested our aid with their future bids. This is something our institution should be proud of as we shined bright on the largest platform for medical students in Canada.

-Yousif Atwan, Medicine Class of 2017

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