We’re now nearly a year and a half into the global pandemic. While we can see light at the end of the tunnel, I know how far-reaching the impacts of COVID-19 have been on all our day to-day lives, both professionally and personally.
I want to acknowledge the tremendous contributions made by Rady Faculty learners, faculty, researchers, staff, and our alumni across the globe. You have been on the front lines of researching, vaccinating, treating and caring for patients, and your sustained support to our academic community and to our health-care system has been vital.
For our undergraduate and graduate learners in dental hygiene, dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and rehabilitation sciences, it has been a challenging experience to adjust to remote learning, but you have done so admirably.
Our Rady Faculty of Health Sciences faculty members and support staff truly stepped up and pivoted to the “new normal” this past academic year. I want to thank each of you for your exceptional dedication to providing excellent virtual and clinical learning environments and supporting students for success.
While the world has intruded on the final year of education and graduation for members of the Class of 2021, they have adapted. Students have shown remarkable resilience, and it will need to be ongoing. They will be facing this pandemic and its consequences for years to come.
Indeed, the pandemic has changed what we do as health professionals and how we do it. We will have to adapt to new ways of practice that will continue to evolve, with virtual care entering our lexicon of activities going forward.
The Class of 2021 will, no doubt, be called upon to meet the current needs of our health system related to the pandemic. I am confident that they are well prepared to serve their communities and manage the responsibility and accountability expected of health professionals.
We have all changed over the past 18 months. Students have exercised the duty of care in very stressful environments, studied virtually with classmates, taken exams remotely, and adapted to wearing personal protective equipment. The lessons they have learned over the pandemic will stay with them and will help define their personal journeys.
Clearly, just as students have demonstrated resilience, so, too, have faculty and staff. The public health restrictions have been demanding on faculty and staff – especially many women – who have had to juggle childcare, children learning remotely at home, and other stresses while teaching, researching and performing work responsibilities in new ways. As a faculty, we thank you and support you.
Throughout the pandemic, we have seen immeasurable acts of courage, human kindness and selflessness. We have come together to help each other through the overwhelming and distressing times, and to demonstrate the innate duty of care which is a hallmark of our professions, and of which we should all be proud.
BRIAN POSTL, CM, OM [MD/76]
Vice-Provost (Health Sciences) & Dean,
Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba