News at Medicine - February 2021 - Dean's Notes February 10, 2021

Dean's Notes February 10, 2021
February 10, 2021
Since the pandemic was first declared almost one year ago, we have had to adapt and sometimes alter plans very quickly. Originally, I was planning on welcoming back to campus all the staff in the Faculty of Medicine who until now, have been working remotely.
On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Memorial University implemented a circuit breaker for the St. John’s region until Feb. 23. That means the university is transitioning to a fully remote teaching, learning and work environment at the St. John’s, Signal Hill and Marine Institute campuses. This change is in effect from Feb. 10-23 and the university will continue to monitor the situation based on public health recommendations. Your safety and well-being is a priority. I want to encourage you to avail of Memorial’s Employee and Family Assistance Program.

Happy Resident Awareness Week!

 Feb. 10-14 is Resident Awareness Week and I hope you will join me in celebrating our postgraduate residents. Thank you for all that you have been doing to keep patients, your colleagues and each other safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

CCME 2021

The last few weeks have been busy with events like the White Coat Ceremony and national meetings. The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) had its’ national board meetings virtually. I would like to remind faculty, staff and learners that the Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME) is occurring on April 17-20, 2021.
This year our Faculty of Medicine is hosting the virtual conference. I would encourage you to participate actively in this conference. I would like to thank Dr. Vernon Curran, Associate Dean, Educational Development, Dr. Heather Flynn and Ms. Sheri Coombs of the Office of Professional and Educational Development, and Dr. Anne Drover, Associate Professor, Discipline of Pediatrics who are leading the organization of the Newfoundland and Labrador aspects of the event. Registration for CCME 2021 is now available at:

National collaboration to address racism

On September 28, 2020 Joyce Echaquan, who was a 37-year old Aitkamekw woman,died in a Quebec hospital. She recorded a Facebook Live video that was extremely distressing which showed her screaming in distress while hospital workers were making despicable and extremely inappropriate remarks towards her. Following this tragic event, the issue of systemic racism against Indigenous people in health care has been a significant and important national conversation.
Much needs to be done to address the racism that exists in our health-care system. We all need to take actions to address systemic racism and ensure Indigenous people are being treated with compassion and respect. I have participated in several national meetings with the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC) and national meetings led by Minister Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous Services over the past several months.
On Jan. 27 and 28 I attended and represented the AFMC in my role as Chair of the AFMC Ad Hoc Committee on Indigenous Health at a federal meeting to look at what various organizations in Canada are doing and are planning on doing to address systemic racism. Over 520 individuals including Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, physicians and medical students as well as provincial and federal government officials, national organizations of a variety of health professions including nursing, midwifery, and medicine, and others attended the meeting in January.
The AFMC has developed a Joint Commitment to Action on Indigenous Health (JCAIH) which was developed by the AFMC Indigenous Health Network, , in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) Calls to Action. It was endorsed by the AFMC Board of Directors in April 2019. The JCAIH recommendations create a benchmark for which schools can measure their progress in responding to the TRC Calls to Action. AFMC has released a summary of progress made against these recommendations and identified critical gaps in the response to date (available at I would encourage all of you to familiarize yourself with the recommendations set out by the JCAIH. The Faculty of Medicine at Memorial is working towards implementing these recommendations and we have a number of areas to improve. If you would like further information on where we are at please do not hesitate to contact Carolyn Sturge Sparkes who is a member of the AFMC Indigenous Health Network.

Class of 2024 virtual White Coat Ceremony

On Thursday, Feb. 4, 2020, the Faculty of Medicine held its first virtual White Coat Ceremony. This event first started at Memorial University in 2001 and is a wonderful ceremony to welcome our newest learners into the medical profession. At this event, the importance of humanism and professionalism as a physician is emphasized.
This year was an extra special event as a new tradition has been established in which we present an Honorary White Coat to recognize a leader in the medical community who has been practicing medicine for some time and displays the qualities, passion and commitment to the profession that we hope our new learners will exhibit. Dr. William Pryse-Phillips who has led the medical students in the recitation of the Declaration of Geneva since the inaugural event was our inaugural honorary white coat recipient. Dr. Pryse-Phillips has been on the Faculty at Memorial since 1972. He has been Professor of Medicine (Neurology) since 1980 and Professor Emeritus since 2004.

Many thanks to the Office of Learner, Wellbeing and Success, Jennifer Armstrong, Adam Siscoe, Michael Smith and Virginia Middleton who worked behind the scenes to make the event a success. Special thanks to our learner chairpersons Stephanie Roberts and Drew Robart who definitely made the event meaningful and creative!! Thanks to our speakers, Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor of Memorial, Dr. Greg Radu, Associate Dean, Learner Well-being and Success, Dr. Tanis Adey, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education, Dr. Lynette Powell, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, Dr. Linda Inkpen, Registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of NL, Dr. Paul Pitts, postgraduate year 1 resident in Psychiatry, Georgia Darmonkow, president, class of 2024. For more information please look at the tweets posted using the #MUNMed2024 hashtag:  and the attached photos. Congratulations to the class of 2024 and your family and friends!

Destination Excellence updates

Destination Excellence project teams continue to move forward on implementation of the strategic plan. The social accountability project team developed the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial’s definition for social accountability, a governance structure for the office of social accountability which is embedded in the Division of Community Health and Humanities, and a paper on principles of community engagement.
They are now launching the social accountability website Many thanks to all those on the social accountability project team co-chaired by Dr. Jill Allison and Dr. Russell Dawe as well as Dr. Bolu Oguyenmi, Assistant Dean, Social Accountability.
The Culture of Excellence project team co-chaired by Dr. Tanis Adey and Dr. Heidi Coombs is meeting regularly and they have provided the following professionalism moment.

The Faculty of Medicine cares about mistreatment – help us get more input 

The Faculty of Medicine has taken the issue of mistreatment within the faculty very seriously. Two years ago the first biennial mistreatment survey was distributed to every member of the Faculty of Medicine. There were reasonable response rates from some groups and lower response rates from other groups. 
We want to hear the views of all of our member groups and so we are asking you to help us find a way to increase the number of people who share their experiences related to mistreatment in the Faculty of Medicine. This anonymous survey is very brief- only 3 questions. Your responses will guide how we design and implement the second survey.
Please click on the link below to access the anonymous survey.
We will continue to provide regular communications about any changes to the learning and work environment.