Community Update from Dean Dermot Kelleher

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

As we approach the end of the year and the beginning of a new one, it is important for us all to reflect on our values as an organization and as a Faculty of Medicine. It is a sombre time in the world with people in many countries seriously impacted by geopolitical conflict. In reflecting on the conflict in Israel and Gaza, Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon, President and Vice-Chancellor of UBC, strongly emphasized the values of respect and compassion in his message to the community on November 6. In a year that has significantly tested our commitments to our collective values, I would like to comment on the importance of respect in our lives, in our learning environments and in our working environments. Respect is one of the most fundamental values in our caring professions — hence its prominent position as one of the core components of our strategic plan’s Contract with Ourselves.

Respect is critical not only to our ability to maintain both physical and mental safety in the spaces where we work, educate and learn, but also to our ability to maintain the safe environments where care is delivered. It is ultimately fundamental to the safety of those we care for. Maintaining and sustaining respect in all of these environments is core to our capacity to effectively ensure that we support the value of compassion, along with the ability to show kindness and empathy in our learning and working environments.

I know that all of you share these values, but it is fair to say that they have been tested in recent times in our diverse compassionate community. It is important to state that failure to maintain these values by engaging in discrimination, harassment and hate speech jeopardizes our collective intent to reduce suffering not only for the communities that we serve at a provincial, Canadian and global level, but also for those within our own community who may feel that their personal safety is impacted.

In times like this, it is challenging to live our core values; but this is when it is most critical that we do. We must re-double our efforts to meet the standards we have set for ourselves and choose our words carefully so that they first, do no harm.

If we are to maintain these values and the principles of safety that emanate from them, we must authentically engage in careful and sometimes uncomfortable conversations and work together with compassion and empathy toward change.

Over the coming weeks, we will be working to develop opportunities for inclusive learning and respectful dialogue within the Faculty of Medicine in areas that directly reflect on mutual respect — including how we address issues like discrimination, harassment and hate speech. We will do this with humility and respect for ourselves and for one another, with a mindset of learning and growth so that we can stay focussed on delivering our vision to transform health for everyone while placing patients, their families and communities at the centre of everything we do.

I appreciate that these are sombre words during this holiday season, but these are challenging times for many. I do want to thank all of you for your extraordinary commitment throughout the last year. I hope you all have an opportunity to take some time for yourselves over the coming weeks to meet with and enjoy your reunions with friends and family.

Wishing you all a peaceful and restful holiday season.

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