Spring town halls break the isolation

Posted on Monday, June 22, 2020

University View

In an era of physical distancing and isolation, Faculty of Medicine members, staff and learners showed up in large numbers to connect with University and Faculty leadership at three virtual town halls this spring.

The events provided participants the opportunity to hear from, and ask questions of, Dean Bernard Jasmin (May 27 and June 16) and uOttawa President Jacques Frémont (June 2), accompanied by vice-deans and vice-presidents.

Dr. Jasmin and Mr. Frémont applauded the Faculty of Medicine for its nimble handling of COVID-19, both for moving quickly to an on-line learning environment, and for being the first faculty to create a comprehensive plan to ramp up research activity, a gold standard for the other faculties.

Deep thanks were expressed to both our front-line workers and researchers, for their valuable contributions to the fight against COVID-19, as well as to our learners and staff for their resilience in such unprecedented times.

While many topics were covered, the majority of participants’ questions centred around ramping up research at the Faculty. Depending on the potential arrival of a second wave of COVID-19, and directives from Ottawa Public Health, the Faculty hopes to further increase research activities to 65% by end of this summer.

Lots of good work has also been done to ensure that the return to some normalcy in clinical settings for medical students and residents balances learner experience with safety.

The Faculty is in close contact with affiliates and partner organizations throughout the pandemic, and has worked hard to provide regular communications updates, without overloading people as they juggle with change in all aspects of their lives.

Dr. Jasmin stated that the pandemic has brought out the best in us, and pointed to the strong initiative our medical students have shown in our community and our first virtual convocation, honouring both MD students and graduate studies and TMM learners, as good examples.

Both leaders also acknowledged their pleasure at how well Faculty and University representatives have collaborated through this crisis. Mr. Frémont made a special point of recognizing the “terrific” leadership of Dr. Jasmin and his team.

Dr. Jasmin explained that while our Faculty’s work on its strategic priorities has not halted, it has slowed of late to allow for appropriate responses to COVID-19. As such, feedback on our Strategic Plan’s blueprint will be extended into the fall. Priorities like equity, diversity and inclusion; wellness; and our fundraising roadmap continue to progress.

Similarly, planning remains underway for initiatives like our new research tower and RGN retrofit; Institute for Medical Education; and École de Pharmacie, amongst others.

The dean assured attendees that the future of the Faculty remains bright thanks to the exemplary dedication of our members, staff and learners; and wished everyone a relaxing summer.

a microphone with picture of Dean Bernard Jasmin and the words
Top Townhall Takeaways
  • The strategic plan and action blueprint are moving forward despite the interruptions of the pandemic.
  • The full effects of COVID-19 on our budget will remain unknown until university-wide student registration numbers are tallied in early fall.
  • Meanwhile, construction on our research tower is planned to start as early as next year concurrent with the RGN retrofit.
  • Our medical students return to clinic on July 6. Dr. Melissa Forgie is sorting out the details of safely bringing them back.
  • The redeployment of residents has been successful, allowing trainees to acquire the competencies they need while keeping the public safe.
  • If all goes smoothly with our return-to-research, 66% occupancy may be possible by end of August or early September, but we will have to pay close attention to the world around us.
  • Staff will return to work as necessary, beginning with services that impact the learner experience. It is expected that most if not all staff will return in the fall months.
  • The Faculty has launched its COVID-19 pandemic response program. Send your projects our way!
  • Our Wellness Program has added programs due to COVID-19 – see if their comprehensive list of resources benefits you.
  • Continuing Professional Development will soon be offering webinars on on-line teaching, language support and more. The team is also revamping the medical education series in the fall.
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