Early steps in reopening medical education clerkship

I have a few messages for this week’s blog.

First, as a Maritimer my thoughts have been with those in Nova Scotia since news broke Sunday of the tragedy there. We at the CoM and in Saskatchewan have tremendous compassion and understanding for what Nova Scotians and the Maritimes are going through, with the terrible toll of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash still deeply felt here after two years. And we have a number of people on our CoM team who are from the Maritimes, as well. So our thoughts are very much with our fellow healthcare learners and workers and first responders in Nova Scotia.

On behalf of everyone at our college, I extend heartfelt condolences to all who are suffering from this incredibly painful loss.

I want to also provide a brief update on our undergraduate medical education clerkship program and where we are at in planning for “reopening” clerkship.

In this vein, as you know, earlier today Premier Scott Moe shared details of a careful, gradual approach to reopening Saskatchewan services and businesses that was developed with Dr. Saqib Shahab, chief medical health officer. Important context from this plan for us all: even as some businesses and services begin to reopen, requirements for physical distancing, personal hygiene and cleanliness, and appropriate use of protective equipment remain in place for at least many more weeks. I encourage you to visit the plan website and read the plan document.

The province’s plan will certainly inform all of our own planning, including for clerkship. In that regard, a significant amount of work has already taken place. Earlier today we had a meeting where proposals developed by two working groups—one composed of our clerkship students, the other of the educators and directors leading clerkship curriculum—were shared with our medical education leaders and will be used to develop a plan for how and when undergraduate clinical education resumes.

Of course, the pandemic is expected to be with us for the foreseeable future and any plans we make must be flexible, as changes with changing circumstances must be expected. More information on our clerkship plan will be shared as it unfolds.

The good news is, as our premier said, we have reason to be cautiously optimistic about the spread of COVID-19 in our province. Continued diligence and thoughtful planning will enable us to make some progress on returning to some aspects of our previous approach to clerkship and other areas of learning and working. It’s important for us to recognize that what we are planning for is a new normal and we need to adjust our expectations with that in mind. This is true for our plans for clerkship, and all our plans for our work of the future.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.