Dear Queen's Supporter,
“I’m a person, not a pathology.”
These words belong to Jim, a person with leukemia who is in the final stages of his disease. To doctors, his point may seem all too obvious. Certainly, the desire to help people is what draws our medical students to Queen’s. But once students start course work and begin juggling a demanding schedule, they must also be reminded that medicine, at its core, is about caring for people.
The Compassionate Care Forum helps our students reconnect with the human element of their work. Created by the Faculty of Health Science’s Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice (OIPEP), the forum consists of lively discussions between our students and an expert panel – a family doctor, a spiritual care giver, and a student nurse – who discuss the place of compassionate care in their practices.
But the centerpiece is A Story about Care, a film focusing on Jim and his wife, who is living with Huntington’s disease. In a very forthright fashion, Jim talks about his own illness and how the smallest indications of care – even something as simple as a nurse holding his hand during a tough procedure – can help. A former teacher, Jim quotes poetry and emphasizes the importance of the word care when we speak of health care. Patients are so much more than their illnesses, so much more than problems that need to be solved.
If that were the only lesson our students took away from the Compassionate Care Forum, it would be enough. But the forum gives them more. Because it’s not just medical students – nursing and rehabilitation therapy students are involved as well. Typically working within their own disciplines, this is a chance for them to learn with, fromand abouteach other.
Collaboration leads to innovation. That’s the idea behind OIPEP’s Health Care Team Challenge™ as well. The challenge gives students from medicine, nursing, and rehabilitation therapy, as well as clinical psychology, the task of developing an interdisciplinary health care plan under the guidance of a faculty mentor. After three weeks, they present their plans to a panel of experts, with the winning team going on to the national championships.
Our medical students are thriving in this collaborative environment. In the words of second year student Betty Chiu, “in the wards, in the hospitals, it is such a team-based environment now that the earlier the exposure we have to working with people in the other faculties and disciplines, the better it is for all of us.”
At Queen’s Medical School, we are educating a generation of caring, compassionate doctors who know how to work with other health care professionals to put their patients first. But we can’t do it without you. Please add your support to the 2013-14 Queen’s Annual Appeal with a gift to the Medical School Excellence Fund, where every gift creates opportunity.
Richard K. Reznick, MD, MEd, FRCSC, FACS, FRCSEd (hon), FRCSI (hon)
Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences
CEO, Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization