Prior to coming to the University of Saskatchewan I had been to Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Business), the University of Regina (Kinesiology), and the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.
While I loved my time in each program, and would highly recommend any of them, I never felt like I had found my place. I am happy to say that I have finally found my place and a community that gets me excited to get out of bed every morning.
Upon coming to the College of Medicine I was given an opportunity to serve as a Class Representative for the Class of 2022, which meant that I was regularly acting as a liaison between students and faculty members. It took me a few months to figure it out, but I was surprised to find that when I spoke I was actually being listened to and often changes that myself and other students suggested were being implemented.
The first big moment for me came during a Year 1 Sub-Committee meeting, which involves most of the Year 1 Course Directors and UGME Leadership, when I bluntly – a bit too bluntly thinking back – decided to voice my thoughts on a course component I felt should be done differently.
Thankfully, my less than tactful approach to providing feedback did not get me thrown out. In fact, to my surprise the Course Director I was speaking accepted what I was saying and took charge on the topic asking a myriad of questions about it. Not only that, but they came to speak with us after the meeting and regularly followed up on the concerns going forward. Then to my even greater surprise a complete overhaul of this section of the course happened from that year to the next.
Since that time, I have had a number of opportunities to represent the student body both locally and nationally through my roles within the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan (SMSS) and the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS). I am constantly surprised at how no matter what table we are sitting at whether it is with the SMA, CMA, CFMS, medical school Deans, or at the Western Medical Schools Conference our voices are being heard and our opinions valued.
The positive experience I had in that meeting is one that has been replicated numerous times, although I like to think I have become a bit more tactful, and those moments are what keep me coming back for more no matter how busy or stressful school gets. While it may not always feel like we are making progress there is a lot happening and even more opportunity to create change for anyone willing to seek out opportunities and be an agent of change.
To anyone who works within the College of Medicine, or interacts with medical students on a regular basis, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for creating an environment that encourages feedback and takes the students perspective into consideration. While we way seem to take it for granted at times, especially when we are fighting for something that seems impossible to implement or inconsequential, we are grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate and to learn from all of you as we begin our journey into medicine.
Without your leadership and guidance we would not be able to do what we do and we would not have the environment that we have now. Next time you end up in a debate with myself, or one of my colleagues, I would ask that you please be patient with us. We are pushing for change because we see great potential here and we want to do everything we can to see that potential realized. Without your help and guidance, we will not be able to get there. So please be patient and help guide us if you see us floundering.
To any current, past, or future student leaders I would also like to say thank you. Thank you for making the sacrifices that you need to make in order to participate in student leadership. Medical school is not easy, and it is even more difficult when you are regularly traveling to conferences and attending meetings when you feel like you should be studying. It is a difficult path to take, but your dedication does not go unnoticed and your work is incredibly valuable.
What you do today will benefit not only the students here at the College of Medicine, but the future patients of those students. Remember you are tomorrow’s physicians leading for health today and you have the ability to enact great change through your platform as a medical student. Please stay involved wherever you can and help us continue to drive change both in the College of Medicine to create an environment where our students will thrive not survive and in the wider community as many of our peers have done before us.