A Long and Happy Career
Starting on June 1 and in the following days and weeks, graduates from across our Faculty, including the MD Class of 2023, will celebrate the successful conclusion of their programs and mark this important milestone in their ongoing career development in a lifetime filled with learning.
It’s an exciting time for all of us, but also an occasion to pause and reflect on what it takes to reach this point and what may lay ahead. That is as true for educators as it is for students. Have we done enough to support our learners? Are they as prepared as may be necessary, not only for the difficulties of their chosen profession today, but the challenges that may exist in the future? We ask ourselves these questions regularly, not just once or twice a year when we mark convocation. We’re in a constant dialogue around such questions as we innovate curricula and improve the quality of our programs. But when you see graduates walk across the stage of Convocation Hall, the questions become more stark, visceral, and urgent.
As I look at the Class of 2023, I see individuals ready to address many of the challenges they may face. Many of them have grown up in the digital age, surrounded by a constant flow of information and conversant about – and with – technology in a way no generation prior had to consider. They are aware of the opportunities this provides, but also its shortfalls. They exhibit a commitment to social and environmental justice, an understanding of inequities in our communities, and a resolve to address the causes and consequences of climate change. They are willing to confront power structures that were once thought to be sacrosanct. And having completed their education during a global pandemic, I am confident they are adaptable and responsive to unexpected difficulties.
However, one area that gives me pause is wellness. We are doing far more than ever to support health, develop resiliency, and understand how to manage your physical and mental well-being. Yet, I also see how our healthcare system is – unintentionally – creating a working environment where maintaining your well-being is becoming more difficult. From a lack of resources, staffing shortages, the pressures of technology and managing digital medical records, and addressing more complex health needs of an aging population, it is causing a cascading series of frustrations that increases burnout.
A happy career tends to be a long career, and it benefits our healthcare system by ensuring that it retains highly trained professionals for as long as possible. But to achieve that, the well-being of health professionals has to be prioritized. That means that Temerty Medicine must continue to be a leader in providing education and support that prepares our students to advocate for and support their physical and mental health throughout their careers. But, just as significantly, we must aid our current educators to ensure their wellness in addition to effectively modeling these qualities to our learners.
In the weeks ahead, I will extend greetings and well wishes on behalf of Temerty Medicine to our Class of 2023. When I do, I usually say three things: stay in touch with your alma mater; remember to express your appreciation to everyone who helped you reach this point; and, enjoy a long and happy career filled with lifelong learning. Maintaining wellness, which will take a personal commitment and system changes, will be essential in ensuring that third piece of advice can be achieved. I know the Temerty Medicine community joins me in congratulating the Class of 2023 and reaffirming our shared commitment to health and well-being.
Dean, Temerty Faculty of Medicine
Vice Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions
University of Toronto