Office of Advocacy & Wellbeing

Caring for the whole student

Sasha Roeder Mah and Laura Vega - 16 September 2019

The Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry's Office of Advocacy & Wellbeing serves a crucial role for health-science students. It cultivates their willingness to be vulnerable and seek support while also challenging the persistent stigma for physicians around asking for help-from the moment students enter school, through clinical placements, residency and beyond.

During their programs, learners may feel they aren't as well-adjusted as others, or that everyone else is coping better with academic and personal pressures. "Our goal is to ensure that students meet their best academic and personal potential, and that we address any barriers that are hampering them," said Associate Dean Melanie Lewis.

The office supports undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate learners, with resources on wellness and financial literacy as well as individual psychological and career counselling services. Students can reach out to one of two part-time psychologists and four assistant deans who help with academic appeals and advice to deal with harassment or intimidation and conflict resolution, among other stressors. Recently, Advocacy & Wellbeing expanded its work to provide support to faculty members as well.

"We are a confidential space. Students can come here knowing they can unload whatever they need to, and feel safe that this information isn't going to hurt their academic reputation," said Lewis.

Highlights of the Office of Advocacy & Wellbeing's work include involvement in student-led, peer-support wellness initiatives and counselling for MD students who have been unmatched for the medical residency of their choice.

"We have a commitment to our students," said Lewis. "We are not going to leave them alone in this journey."