While many people are taking time to refresh and relax and enjoy the Canadian summer, our newest cohort of residents are just beginning their journey into family medicine. For our residents – as many of our department's more senior members remember - this is a time of excitement, nervousness and anticipation.
I welcome all our new residents to the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM). You are at one of the top family medicine training programs in the world and I hope you take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to you. Get involved in our many programs and events, find mentors and peers, and explore ways – whether through clinical care, research, education, advocacy, or other means – to expand your original understanding of family medicine. This discipline and this department are expanding faster than ever before in new and exciting ways – it is a wonderful time to be part of our profession.
I thank our outgoing Family Medicine Residents Association of Toronto (FRAT) Presidents, Drs. Samantha Avadiev and Venus Valbuena, for their great work over the last year, and I welcome Drs. Ilan Fellus and Vivian Tam as our 2019-2020 FRAT presidents. FRAT advocates for the needs of family medicine residents at DFCM and ensures our department is doing everything we can to support our residents.
As we saw at our inaugural DFCM residency graduation ceremony last month in the Great Hall at Hart House, our residents form strong bonds with each other and with their preceptors and residency leads. This is great to see. Residency can be stressful at times, and having people you can turn to for support and guidance is essential. The University of Toronto also has many resources for you to access if you need support – never hesitate to reach out for assistance.
We asked our 2019 graduating residents to give our incoming residents some advice when they enter our program, and here is just a bit of what they had to say:
“U of T is a phenomenal place to learn and grow as a family physician. There are abundant opportunities no matter what your interest (generalism, focused practice, leadership, policy, QI, research, etc). Throw yourself into it and explore all it has to offer both in and outside of the clinic. You may discover a passion you didn't realize you had before and it will change your life. Be open to exploring opportunities and make sure you find some mentors while you are here. Don't be afraid to ask for help.”
“Be proactive: make learning goals for yourself and seek clinical experiences to fulfill those goals. Be friendly and connect with other residents.”
“Be open to all experiences even if they are in an area you don't think will be part of your future practice. If you are open, you will always find something to incorporate into your practice.”
“Plan ahead for everything, don't procrastinate on planning your electives or vacation time off. Two years is not nearly as long as it seems.”
“Really get involved in your cohort - give feedback to enhance the program - take on leadership opportunities.”
This is all great advice. While finding time to get involved and take up opportunities is important, please also ensure that you take time to take care of your own mental, physical and emotional health. If you establish good habits in residency, you will find they stay with you throughout your career. Good luck to all our new residents. I look forward to meeting you and hearing about your work over the course of the next two years and beyond.
Professor and Chair
Department of Family and Community Medicine