One of the greatest joys of being a faculty member in the Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences is the great privilege of guiding, mentoring, and developing the next generation of health professionals.
Spring has sprung, which means that it is time once again to celebrate the successes of another remarkable crop of newly minted colleagues.
Graduates, you have earned a remarkable degree. It is a degree that gives you great authority. But it is also one that demands that you hold yourselves to the highest possible professional standards. Having to live up to the standards of healthcare professionalism may sound like a daunting task. But you shouldn’t be afraid of those high standards. You should embrace them.
First of all, you should embrace the responsibility that you have to your patients. As their healthcare provider, you will need to offer them counsel and care in their darkest moments. Your patients will put their trust in your judgment and their lives in your hands. The relationship you will have with your patients is a privilege. And it is one in which you should take great pride, as you have earned that privilege through years of hard work. This fiduciary relationship is fundamental to our professionalism and must always be at the centre of everything we do.
But we also have a social contract with Canadians. Society bestows upon us great respect, authority, and the privilege of self-regulation. In return, we owe Canadians and Canada (and indeed all of humanity) a duty to the greater good that can be conceptualized as civic professionalism. We must relentlessly advocate for a better system, for health equity, and on behalf of the most vulnerable. This is our duty, and it is an essential component of a career in service of others.
Part of this civic professionalism will be assisting in the transition – already underway – to a democratized information environment. Technological change has brought all the knowledge in the world to nearly everyone’s fingertips. No longer do health care professionals exclusively hold much of the body of knowledge of health care. No longer do we decide with whom we share the knowledge or how. No longer do we decide when and what physiologic data will be acquired – patients increasingly are taking charge of their own data.
As technology democratizes medicine, it has the potential to do enormous amounts of good for society – putting unprecedented power in patients’ hands. This is a good thing. But it does not mean that we no longer need experts. Experts critically evaluate information; and they use experience and judgment to contextualize and filter. In this era of “fake news”, people need trusted experts more than ever before to help them evaluate and wisely apply the information to which they have such ready access.
To meet all of the challenges of the future, doctors and nurses and pharmacists and occupational and physical therapists – and all health professionals – will need to work together in transdisciplinary models of care. It is significant that doctors and nurses graduate together in the same ceremony, because from now on you will be a part of the same team. By committing to collaboration and mutual respect, you will live up to the high standards of our calling. Our careers are careers of service – and our patients must always come first; they must be at the centre of everything we do.
Our faculty’s vision is that “we ask questions, seek answers, advance care and inspire change.” It is a vision you can take with you as you begin your careers. Maintain that spirit of inquiry. Constantly strive for new solutions. Be restless and relentless as change agents. Embrace the nobility of civic professionalism.
I am very proud to call you the Queen’s Class of 2018. I have tremendous confidence that all of you, individually and collectively, will change the world.
Spring Convocation 2018 info: http://www.queensu.ca/registrar/students/convocation-graduation/ceremon…