Community update from Dean Dermot Kelleher

A message from Dermot Kelleher, Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Vice-President, Health, UBC.

Dean Dermot Kelleher on stage with graduates at the Spring 2023 MD graduation

When summer comes around, it’s a time when we really appreciate the remarkable cycle of academic life. All of our work in education throughout the year comes to fruition as our students graduate and arrive at the ceremonies accompanied by their delighted families and friends. And as they commence their new lives as health professionals, our thoughts turn to our next influx of young people — those who will entrust themselves to us to shape their lives and to whom we will, in turn, trust to become our colleagues, collaborators and even our healers in the future.

In a faculty such as ours, it’s often easy to take the importance of education for granted as part of our core mission. But, what we do as educators has a profound impact on the people of this province and beyond. Which is why, as we move forward with our vision to transform health for everyone, our continued focus on the delivery of excellence in all aspects of our educational process remains steadfast. As our Faculty of Medicine’s strategic plan Building the Future states, this Faculty is where “the extraordinary comes to life”. And sometimes, this may not be easily recognised as our dedicated faculty, staff and learners can often make the extraordinary seem routine, part of the normal fabric of our lives.

In the course of the recent graduation ceremonies, I was struck by several examples of the extraordinary impacts of our Faculty of Medicine. I was privileged to be asked to say a few words at the festivities following the graduation of the Midwifery class. And, as I thought about what to say and listened to the graduating class and our educational leaders speak, it occurred to me what an extraordinary process is taking place in midwifery education — both in increasing Indigenous recruitment and in the creation of innovative remote-learning technologies to facilitate the education of midwives across the province. Even more importantly, the graduating midwives have a profound sense of the importance of their mission to transform the experience of bringing life into this world for some of the most underserved communities in this province. Great credit is due to Dr. Cecilia Jevitt for her leadership and the work of early trailblazers like Elaine Carty, who is a Canadian Medical Hall of Fame 2023 inductee.

A second extraordinary moment came during the Indigenous conferring ceremony, when Dr. Ciara Morgan-Feir of the MD graduating class of 2023 made this wonderful statement: “We are powerful, we are resilient and we are our ancestors’ wildest dreams.” It’s hard to understate the power of these words — words that truly illustrate the importance of the Faculty’s Indigenous MD Admissions program. It truly reminds us that this program has helped build a community of more than 130 Indigenous UBC medical alumni who are changing the landscape of medicine and defining what it means to deliver culturally-safe care. This program not only plays the critically important role of attracting, educating and supporting superb Indigenous medical students and graduates, but also creates wonderful role models who make so many people, communities and nations proud. And let us not forget that we are at the foothills of these endeavours. As Elders Doris Fox and Dr. Roberta Price continually remind us, there is so much more to do.

So, to all in this extraordinary Faculty of Medicine, let’s not forget what an important role we play — not just in education, research and administration, but also in creating the framework of a healthy and inclusive society.

And, as we look back on the wonderful work of the past year, I hope that you all have the opportunity for rest and reflection. My Dean’s summer playlist this time includes some songs selected by the Dean’s executive team, including a wonderful soundtrack for rest and reflection, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay.”

This message was sent to all faculty, staff and learners in the Faculty of Medicine.