Adjusting to the “New Normal”
Since March, we have been trying to understand and adjust to what “normal” means during a global pandemic. History has provided us with insights, yet the lessons of yesterday and the realities of today do not resolve the uncertainty, anxiety and strains we face. But we are turning the corner thanks to the efforts of our extended community and partners, coupled with our shared commitment to delivering care to those in need. We can take comfort in the steps we’ve made toward adjusting to the new normal.
In the early days, we faced the difficult decision of shutting down most research labs and clinical placements. This was not an easy choice. We knew what it meant for research progress and for learners, especially those on the verge of completing their programs. But we needed to do our part to ensure members of our community remained safe.
Now, our research labs continue to ramp up their important work. And, our health profession learners are starting to return to clinical placements in hospital and community-based locations. Many people have made substantial efforts to make this happen, including:
• Professors Jacqueline James (VP Education, Sinai Health) and Patricia Houston (Vice Dean, Medical Education) who co-chair the TAHSN Education Committee, which has been facilitating students return to our affiliated hospitals;
• Professors Leslie Nickell (Physician Assistant Program) and Ann Tourangeau (Nursing), who have co-chaired a working group dedicated to supporting student placements in clinical settings across the health professions sector;
• Professor Heather Thomson (Nursing), who led a team that has developed COVID curriculum for learners across the health professions to support their return to clinical placements;
• Michael Scott and the MedStore team who have been procuring, receiving and delivering PPE needs to support research and learning; and,
• Jeremy Knight and Professor Trevor Moraes, as well as Heather Taylor and the Facilities Management and Space Planning team, for facilitating laboratory restart efforts.
These individuals, and many others, have been invaluable in ensuring the Faculty of Medicine continues to succeed as we adjust to life during the pandemic.
Now that we have reached a new “steady state,” it’s important that we take a breath. To facilitate wellbeing amid the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, our Human Resources team led by Jean Robertson has developed a wellness website available to all administrative, research and technical staff. The site offers resources such as podcasts, Ted Talks, access to events around U of T, mindfulness videos, support services and a discussion forum for communication with colleagues.
We cannot let those early, urgent days of the pandemic become the new normal. I encourage you to monitor your work/life balance, take vacations, and make use of our wellness resources. Take breaks during the workday, enjoy the summer weather and check in with friends. COVID-19 will be with us for some time, so let’s ensure we adopt a pace that will sustain our wellbeing as well as our work.
Dean, Faculty of Medicine
Vice Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions