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Winter is here with purpose.

Posted on February 9, 2021

A truly powerful purpose statement is one that achieves two objectives: it must clearly articulate strategic goals and it must motivate the workforce. These objectives are equally important, both individually and synergistically. That is to say, when we understand and embrace our organization’s purpose, we’re inspired to do work that not only is good, but great.

The NOSM mission is to improve the health of Northern Ontarians by being socially accountable in our education and research programs and advocating for health equity. This vision is the inspiration and motivation for the School’s new initiatives, including founding NOSM’s new Centre for Social Accountability and our partnership with Ornge in Operation Remote Immunity. Thank you to all who volunteered with #OpRemoteImmunity. It became a complex project and, in the end, we seem to have more hands than were needed. The spirit of intentionally doing good is alive at NOSM.

I am realizing that great leaders are not born, they are made. The ability to help others triumph over adversity is not written into one’s genetic code, it is forged in crisis. As COVID-19 continues to race its way through communities and neighbourhoods, our leaders become “real” when they demonstrate behaviours that inspire people through difficult times. For NOSM, our leadership values are centered around respect, inclusivity and being socially accountable. Leadership means being a safe port and having clear direction, nimble tactics and thoughtful advocacy for our medical school.

Look at the terrific leaders in public health like Drs. Teresa Tam, Bonnie Henry, Penny Sutcliffe. They are tirelessly trying to answer the difficult questions about the ethical and moral issues in the allocation of vaccines—questions like: Who goes first? Why are people in Toronto posting selfies while doctors or Elders elsewhere aren’t getting it? What about access to ventilators? Who should be given the right to live? Why does age not factor in? The availability and distribution of the vaccine is a complex and ethical issue. To guide COVID-19 vaccine prioritization, distribution, and decision-making relies on consistency, stewardship, accountability, and public trust. It’s a very weighty and challenging topic that requires much energy and focus.

NOSM also has had to navigate around the emerging concerns about the filing for insolvency by Laurentian University. Many of you have been asking questions about the risks or impact for NOSM. I can assure you that we are monitoring this situation closely and as a separate legal entity with our own not-for-profit corporation and our own Board of Directors, NOSM is minimally affected.

Meanwhile, winter has arrived. A deep winter! Just for a moment, let’s take a breath. Consider the gifts of the natural world outside. Snow is just so beautiful, covering everything like a fluffy white blanket. The next time you find yourself outside, inhale deeply. There is almost no pollution in the air this winter. The crisp, clean air is the equivalent to winning the lottery. It’s a great feeling.

For me with a chronic lung disease, Northern Ontario’s clean air has made a huge difference, in combination with no travel, sleeping in my own bed, good nutrition and seeing family on Zoom I am managing to ‘survive’ the pandemic.

As we venture through February and the hardest stage of the winter, please think about what you are doing to maintain your health. Share your self-care routine or advice with the rest of us. What are you doing to feel better? How are you surviving the pandemic?

If you have any feedback or comments, please reach out at dean@nosm.ca and follow me on twitter @ddsv3.


Honouring NOSM’s Black leaders during Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate Black culture and the many contributions made by Black learners, physicians, academics and staff at NOSM. The events of the past year amplify the importance of anti-racism our commitment to #RespectTheDifferenceRead my statement on Black History Month.

Join us monthly at Pan-Northern Clinical Rounds

On the first and third Wednesday of each month, Pan-Northern Clinical Rounds will provide NOSM faculty, learners, staff, and health-care professionals across Northern Ontario with relevant clinical education. Please encourage your colleagues and learners to take in the Rounds as we learn together and from each other. Register now.


Francophone Health in Primary Care Webinar Series

In recognition of the International Francophonie Day on March 20, NOSM’s Francophone Affairs Office is hosting a French-language webinar series. Throughout the month of March, webinars will focus on topics related to Francophone health in primary care. Follow NOSM’s social media @thenosm or visit nosm.ca to get the detailed information about each session.


NOSM Board of Directors Seeks Three Members

If you share NOSM’s commitment to improve health care access for the people and communities in Northern Ontario, this is an ideal opportunity for you. NOSM’s vision of innovative education and research for a healthier North means we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing high-quality education to physicians and health professionals, and continue to be a leader in distributed, learning-centred, community-engaged education and research. Deadline for submissions is March 1, 2021.


Project Connect

NOSM medical students Rebecca Bourdon and Alexandra Dozzi are collecting gently used cell phones to be re-purposed and given to survivors of intimate partner violence. They’re working with local organizations and shelters to help survivors gain access to services, care, housing, employment and independence. If you have a gently used cell phone, which you would be willing to donate to this meaningful project, please email Rebecca at remailloux@nosm.ca or Alexandra at adozzi@nosm.ca to arrange contactless pickup or drop-off. Please help spread the word.


Justina Marianayagam representing NOSM at WHO

Early last year, Justina Marianayagam was selected to represent Canada by the World Health Organization (WHO). She worked for months with the International Guideline Development Group under the WHO’s Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health. The International Guideline on the Management of Chronic Pain in Children was recently published. Justina was one of three Canadians selected for her work in health-care advocacy and research, and was able to bring the perspective of both a medical student and patient partner. As a former pediatric patient, she spent most of her adolescent years at SickKids Hospital navigating the in-patient wards. Justina expresses her thanks to NOSM for continued support and is proud to have represented her school internationally. Official release of the WHO Guideline.