Trees for Tutors
From a tiny seed a mighty trunk may grow — Aeschylus
While the academic year winds down, students Isabella Janusonis and Anna Lee reflect on the impact their tutors have had on their first two years of the MD Program at U of T, which are known as Foundations.
“There’s a special bond between our class and our tutors,” notes Janusonis. “Our class has had the unique experience of going through the Foundations curriculum mostly virtually. Through the pandemic, the tutors were often our only personal connections to the medical world.”
Generally, tutors in the Foundations program are physicians.
In previous years, classes often thanked their tutors by taking them out for a meal.
But, following two years of public health protections that made dining out a challenge, learners are rethinking the way they pay tribute to these important educational figures.
This year, the class is raising money to plant trees in honour of their tutors through OneTreePlanted, which operates around the world and works with botanists to determine which species will ensure the greatest biodiversity within local ecosystems.
Janusonis and Lee say the tribute is inspired by a workshop they attended that was led by John Croutch, an Indigenous training coordinator at U of T’s office of Indigenous initiatives.
“One principle that stuck with me is the idea that our actions have an impact seven generations into the future and the importance of thinking about how our actions today will affect the future,” says Janusonis. “We want to respect Indigenous values, particularly given the land we’re on.”
The trees could potentially be planted wherever they are needed most, though the students plan to direct their donation toward reforestation within Ontario.
“Canada’s boreal forest is the world’s largest intact forest, which is threatened by forest fires and the heat domes in British Columbia. We need to take action to prevent future climate crises,” says Lee.
As the incoming GreenMeds representatives for the MD Program, the students also see the connection between human health and the environment.
According to the World Health Organization, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.
Janusonis and Lee also note the growing attention to resource stewardship within the medical profession and the downstream environmental and health benefits.
While ensuring people receive the care they need, learners and health care providers also weigh the potential risks and benefits of procedures and treatments to avoid unnecessary tests and interventions. The approach can save patients time and stress and along the way, reduce the amount of waste generated in the process.
“Our time in medical school coincided with the pandemic and through it all, our tutors have been the keepers of hope,” says Janusonis. “These are busy medical professors who juggle clinical roles, their work with students and other responsibilities outside of their professional duties. They’re supposed to teach us about medicine, but they also teach us important life lessons, too.”
The fundraiser will continue until the last day of classes on May 30th. Contributions can be made through GoFundMe.