Mentors and Allies
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the launch of this year’s Diversity Mentorship Program (DMP). Mentoring is important to professional development, both early in a person’s career and throughout. I’ve been fortunate to have encountered some great mentors in my life, both through formal programs and informally. However, as someone who is now in a mentor role, I find the best lessons I’ve learned have been from mentees. An ideal mentorship match is one where both mentors and mentees gain from the relationship.
I was excited by the enthusiasm and energy on display at the DMP launch. It speaks to how much this program is valued. The program was launched by Professor David McKnight and renewed by Chief Diversity Officer Professor Lisa Robinson and Anita Balakrishna, the Faculty’s Diversity Strategist. In many ways, establishing DMP is the natural extension of a pathway that begins with the Summer Mentorship Program and continues with Community of Support. These efforts are intended to address some simple and obvious truths. First, it’s hard to see yourself in a role if you don’t see anyone like you there first. Second, it’s hard to get there if you don’t have the opportunity to learn from people who have traveled the path you’re on. And third, it’s really hard to succeed in hostile environments. This is why we are identifying role models, supporting mentorships and fostering allies in our Faculty.
Ensuring a culturally safe and supportive environment is essential. The Faculty recently released results of the Voice of the Resident study, which is the largest and most in-depth survey of medical residents yet. More than half of our almost 2,000 Post MD learners responded to the confidential questionnaire. The results delivered some encouraging news. For example, the survey found that in the last academic year, 70 per cent of residents had an “excellent” or “very good” residency experience in the last year, while 80 per cent experienced training opportunities tailored specifically to their needs. However, the survey also told us that 28 per cent of residents experienced harassment in the past year, and 29 per cent said they’d been discriminated against based on their race, religion or sexual orientation, among other reasons.
Important and specific steps are being taken to address these results. For example, Professor Salvatore Spadafora, our Vice Dean of Post MD Education, and other leaders from the Faculty have spoken with the CEOs of Toronto’s teaching hospitals. They have pledged their full cooperation in making the learning environment a priority over the next two years. But while it’s essential that there be a strong institutional response, I also think it’s important to think about what each of us can do to help foster the inclusive community we all seek. The Sinai Health System’s innovative campaign for equitable health care asks, Are You an ALLY? If you’re asked that question, I hope you can say yes — or that you’ll consider steps you could take to say yes soon.
Dean, Faculty of Medicine
Vice Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions
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