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The Importance of Human Connection

Dr. Nancy Whitmore

It’s hard to believe we are about to begin another new year. And the one just ending had no shortage of challenges. It is now nearly two years ago that we moved away from our normal social connections to a series of virtual interactions. While this pandemic is far from over, it will end one day and in the meantime it’s important we don’t lose the human connection. Our recent Council Award Recipient, Dr. Ramona Mahtani, summed it up well. In her acceptance speech, she stated “choosing humanism over escapism. Connection over detachment and depersonalization — so we can love and care authentically for the most vulnerable patients and families.” This is an important reminder as we come out of an almost two-year period of “distant caring.” I encourage you to watch the rest of Dr. Mahtani’s speech.

The end of 2021 also marked the end of our first year with a strong focus on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the College. I am pleased to share with you a report that summarizes our activities in this space. A huge thank you to Dr. Saroo Sharda — our EDI Lead — who has passionately committed herself to this important work.

At the College, we continue to focus on EDI and those who have been historically marginalized within the health care system. The cover story of our newest issue of Dialogue addresses ableism. This social prejudice is rooted in a value system where “standard” abilities are seen as superior. Unconscious bias occurs often as disability is equated to diminished health. This article offers helpful information and serves as a reminder of when ableism can present itself in health care.

“While this pandemic is far from over, it will end one day and in the meantime it’s important we don’t lose the human connection.”

As 2021 draws to a close, I want to send a special thank you to Dr. Judith Plante for her leadership in her role as President of Council. Judith has been flexible, adaptive and supportive during another year of balancing the routine demands on the College and the challenges of the pandemic. It has been a true partnership and I’m grateful that Judith was at the helm. I’m also very much looking forward to working with Dr. Janet van Vlymen as she takes over the reins as our 2022 Council President. Janet and I share a commitment to working with stakeholders across the system to address physician wellness and burnout which has become an even more significant issue as a result of the pandemic.

Finally, I’d like to say thank you for continuing to provide excellent patient care, including supporting vaccination and public health measures during this ongoing pandemic. In 2022, the College will be working with system partners to discuss a number of key issues, including how we tackle the backlog our health system is facing, and how we alleviate and address the growing mental health crisis that both patients and the health care profession are battling. As Dr. Mahtani said in her speech, “through human connection and unconditional support of one another, we can endure in an infinitely challenging world.” In the coming year, I’m wishing for reprieve from the pandemic and hope that each of you are able to spend some much-deserved time with family and friends.

“Finally, I’d like to say thank you for continuing to provide excellent patient care including supporting vaccination and public health measures during this ongoing pandemic”