One year on from the start of the pandemic — a year of virtual care, overburdened hospitals and remote teaching and learning — many of us are feeling the strain. But, while there is still a long way to go, we should all feel extremely proud of our efforts over the past 12 months.
These efforts have kept family practice open and available to our patients and helped pave the way for mass vaccination. DFCM faculty are leading vaccine clinics and outreach efforts across the city, from the U of T-hosted vaccine clinic on our St. George campus, to impressive initiatives at many DFCM hospitals and community sites.
Having supported the construction of this infrastructure, family physicians are poised to launch a much broader vaccine effort through our own practices. Considerable advocacy by family medicine leadership in Ontario is expected to lead to broad implementation once vaccine supply increases, with learnings from recent family practice pilots informing best practices. In the meantime, we continue the very important task of helping our patients feel confident getting the vaccine, and ensuring they know how and where to book appointments. We are spending a considerable amount of time answering questions about vaccine choices and time intervals, and doing our best as trusted partners to help patients by reducing anxiety and uncertainty where possible.
This work is broad and far reaching, with many family physicians working to ensure that remote, under-served and hesitant communities are offered vaccination information and support through initiatives such as Tkaronto Indigenous Vaccine Access, Operation Remote Immunity and the Black Health Vaccine Initiative.
While COVID care continues, the DFCM postgraduate team has been working behind-the-scenes to interview and select our next cohort of family medicine residents. The team of over 360 faculty, residents and staff have now interviewed over 850 prospective residents. We are one of the few departments to conduct live virtual interviews rather than asking applicants to submit videos. This has allowed prospective residents to have a personal conversation with a faculty member and current resident, and learn more about DFCM. We wish all family medicine applicants the best ahead of match day on April 20.
Not surprisingly, many of us are feeling busier than ever. Still, I would like to remind you that we are entering promotions season. After a year of COVID-19, academic promotion may not feel like a current priority, but I encourage you to consider opportunities at both junior (Lecturer to Assistant Professor) and senior (Assistant to Associate, and Associate to full Professor) levels. The promotion process celebrates excellence, impact and innovation in academic family medicine, something so many DFCM faculty members have demonstrated over the last year. Contact your chief or program director to discuss promotion opportunities.
Finally, in the wake of the shootings in Atlanta, Georgia and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, I would like to reiterate that DFCM, as part of the University of Toronto, emphatically condemns anti-Asian discrimination and racism, and all forms of discrimination, hate and violence. I encourage anyone in need of support following these events, and the events of the past year, to reach out to the department and make use of the services available. I also draw your attention to U of T’s Anti-Semitism Working Group interim report and online survey, which is seeking to learn about and address ongoing issues of anti-Semitism on U of T’s three campuses.
As we move into April, I hope you are able to take a moment enjoy the warming weather and any holidays you may be celebrating – Passover, Easter and Ramadan.
Department of Family and Community Medicine
March 31, 2021