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Welcome to the New Year! 2022, here we come!

Posted on January 11, 2022

I would like to say welcome back to school, but the latest on Omicron and COVID-19 restrictions feel more like welcome back to 2021!

Effective Wednesday, January 5, for at least 21 days—until January 26, 2022—subject to trends in public health and health system indicators, Ontario is reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors, and limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors.

We are back to working from home, which requires businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site. Capacity restrictions, closures and limitations on businesses and schools moving to online learning all have a huge impact on us. The surgical and routine health care backlog is going to be immense, and our recovery period will be a challenge.

To prevent hospitals and the entire health system from becoming overwhelmed, Ontario is back in a Phase 2 lockdown. The tsunami of new and emerging cases due to the Omicron variant cannot be stopped, but it can be slowed. And, vaccinations, boosters and self-protection measures with N95 masks, sanitizing and only essential travel is here for a while longer.

We should not wait to plan the recovery stage. Although the first step is to manage the crisis and to implement the emergency measures, NOSM is also planning for the return to normalcy (whenever that will be). At least planning is a good coping mechanism, isn’t it? We will keep responding, but we will move beyond that toward recovering and thriving. Ensuring that everyone is engaged, informed and keeping well—both physically and mentally—is at the top of our 2022 New Year’s Resolutions list.

Resolution #1: Ensuring that everyone is engaged, informed and keeping well—both physically and mentally— is our top priority.

This will require a purpose-driven mindset during what may be a prolonged period. The end-game is to thrive, not just survive.

Many questions arise as we reflect, recommit and reboot for 2022. Will we return to work as before or are we entering a whole “new normal” of tele-everything for learning, working and delivering health care education? Will travel ever be the same? Do we need to be in places, conferences, meetings and face-to-face as much as before COVID? Can we seize the opportunity created by the pandemic to be eco-appropriate and reduce our carbon footprint? What new skills and reskilling is needed to ensure we have the right health-care providers, educators, support systems and researchers for 2022 and into the next decade of uncertainty?

One thing is certain, nothing is certain anymore. Everything and everyone should be poised for seismic change.

Resolution #2: Be prepared for sudden changes.

My best advice is to consider this five-step process:
  1. Recognise that change is the new normal.
  2. Think–and then think again–about what might happen. All scenario planning is good for you.
  3. Consult and create a group of close advisors with the competencies you rely upon for academic and business continuity.
  4. Make contingencies for the unexpected.
  5. Pace yourself with rest and sleep. Exercise and good nutrition are critical as we navigate the next few months.

Over the past two years, my experience has been that “change” has a process. It’s full of ebbs and flows, fits and starts. At times, you may feel on top of the world—like nothing can stop you. Then suddenly you find yourself at the bottom of the heap, dismayed and down. Then what?

As the song says, “pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.”

Resolution #3: Reach out to others and help them. Every act of kindness counts!

As we make our journey this year to becoming NOSM University, we will not waver from our prime directive of social accountability. #NOSMUin22 is still happening. We are resolved to thrive, adapt to change and to be socially accountable in everything we do.

We celebrate and recognize all who had a part in NOSM’s history. Through combined efforts we are making a difference and remain every bit as determined and committed to improving access to quality health care for all in Northern Ontario. Collectively, we move forward and onto the next chapter in the evolution of our small and mighty institution. After all, together we are NOSM.

Miigwetch, thank you, marsi, merci,Dr. Sarita Verma
Dean, President and CEO
Northern Ontario School of MedicineIf you have any feedback or comments, please reach out at  and follow me on Twitter @ddsv3.

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Dr. Lee Toner appointed Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education

We are pleased to announce Dr. Lee Toner’s five-year term appointment as Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education (UME), effective January 1, 2022. Dr. Toner is a bilingual  emergency physician in Sudbury and an Associate Professor at NOSM with experience in accreditation. He recently held this role in the interim.

The NOSM community is honoured to continue to benefit from his experience and expertise.

Congratulations Dr. Toner!

Dr. Diane Whitney named NOSM’s new Assistant Dean, Resident Affairs

Dr. Diane Whitney is NOSM’s inaugural Assistant Dean, Resident Affairs for Postgraduate Medical Education and Health Sciences Programs, responsible for overseeing the Resident Wellness program and the integration of Resident Affairs into the NOSM Learner Affairs Unit.

Dr. Whitney is a practising community-based psychiatrist in Thunder Bay with clinical expertise in mood disorders, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Read more.

Canadian Association for Medical Education Award Announcements

Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Newbery, Dr. Josée Lalanne, Dr. Jenna Darani and Conner Sonke on receiving a 2022 CAME award!

Dr. Sarah Newbery, Assistant Dean of Physician Workforce Strategy, received the 2022 Certificate of Merit Award, in recognition of senior faculty who have made an exceptional contribution to medical education. The 2022 Rising Star Certificates of Excellence were awarded to Mr. Conner Sonke, medical student, Dr. Josée Lalanne, resident, and Dr. Jenna Darani, a student of NOSM’s Master of Medical Studies program. These awards recognize learners who have demonstrated a commitment and passion for medical education. We are immensely proud of you.

COVID Update on behalf of the NOSM Emergency Response Team

All staff and faculty are advised that first- and second-year medical students have moved to online learning until further notice. All other employees will continue to work from home unless otherwise directed by their supervisor.

NOSM strongly recommends that all staff and faculty get the booster immunization (third dose) as soon as possible if you have not received it already. The booster is our best defence against further spread and illness. There is a strong possibility that proof of a booster dose will be a mandatory requirement when we return to on-campus activity. Further communications will clarify the next steps on the process for staff and faculty to provide proof of a third dose of the vaccine.

Register for Northern Lights Pan-Northern Leadership Forum 

Register now for Northern Lights 2022! NOSM’s Pan Northern Leadership Forum is being held on February 24-25, 2022 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. EST. This year, the focus is on strategies that are essential for being an effective leader. Keynote speakers include Dr. Homer Tien, President and CEO of ORNGE Air Ambulance and Trauma Surgeon at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and Dr. Nel Wieman, Canada’s first female Indigenous psychiatrist, and many more!  Register today.

Join Dr. Richard Heinzl, speaking on founding Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Canada

The NOSM Friends of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) chapter is hosting Dr. Richard Heinzl, founder of Doctors Without Borders Canada for a conversation on his experience with MSF—the Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization that has inspired a movement to help the world’s most vulnerable populations. Join us for a conversation on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. EST. All registrants will be emailed a reminder and link to the event where they can submit questions in advance. RSVP here for the NOSM Friends of MSF event.

Nominate an urban physician for the Rural Heart Award 

In recognition of strong partnerships between health care and education, nominate an urban physician who has a Rural Heart. This, and several other rural physician service award nominations are due soon. Learn more about them and their eligibility requirements at the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada.

Nominate NOSM faculty and alumni mentors for a Royal College Award

Start preparing your Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada award nominations. The Regional Mentor of the Year Award call for submissions is expected to be announced shortly. Or consider a nomination for a National, International or Education award. Learn more at the Royal College Award page.

Join the upcoming PGME information sessions! 

Are you interested in NOSM’s Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Internal Medicine, or Surgery residency programs? Register for these, and other upcoming sessions, on the PGME Virtual Events page.