Medical students talk health

Queen’s Medicine Health Talks group hosts first batch of lectures on topics ranging from maintaining a healthy heart to mental health

QMHT, which was created this year, will host its first talk on Feb. 20.
QMHT, which was created this year, will host its first talk on Feb. 20.
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The School of Medicine will be opening its doors to the public for the new Queen’s Medicine Health Talks (QMHT) group.

The first presentation will be Let’s Talk Heart Health on Feb. 20. The March 27 presentation will be on mental health. As for the April 17 presentation, QMHT hopes to consult with the community before deciding on a topic.

“We’d like to get some feedback from the people who’ve been attending the lectures and so that [the] last talk will be more open to suggestions,” said Nothando Swan, QMHT president.

Medical students will lead a 30- to 40-minute lecture on the night’s subject. Experts in the field will then lead a question-and-answer session. For Let’s Talk Heart Health, that role falls to Dr. Tony Sanfilippo, associate dean of the undergraduate medicine program.

“Physicians will be involved in meeting with students beforehand, first to outline the talk and the direction of the talk, and then secondly to hear the final talk before it’s presented to the public,” Swan, MD ’17, said, adding that these physicians will take on a mentoring role.

The main goal of the talks is to foster conversation between Queen’s medical students and the wider Kingston community.

“The idea is to really welcome anyone within the Kingston community into the School of Medicine building, not only to listen to a didactic talk on a health topic of interest, but also to be able to engage in conversation afterwards,” Swan said.

“We’d like to develop, or further develop, the types of relationships that are already present.”

The process of organizing and giving the talks will also enable involved students to practice skills that will be required of them in their future careers.

“As future healthcare professionals, the core skill is conversation with patients, and so to start that this early and have it be a two-way street is so essential to our learning, but also just that comfort that we need patients to have in us,” Rajini Retnasothie, MD ’17 and QHMT vice-president (external promotion), said.

QMHT also hopes to empower potential patients through the information these talks will deliver.

“We’re hoping [it] will lead to them having more control over their healthcare experience in general … so that they feel they have more knowledge and can take a more proactive role in their health,” Nadia Gabarin, MD ’17 and vice-president (internal promotion), said.

Tyson Savage, vice-president (curriculum), bridged the concepts of empowering patients and disseminating academic information.

“In class, we’re always talking in medical lingo and talking about these in-depth science topics, but we also need that communication skill, [so] that we can transfer that information and just explain it in a way that our patients will be able to understand,” Savage, MD ’17, said.

“This is an early lesson in communication that’s hard to get without being involved with the public.”

Matthew Haaland, vice-president (logistics and resources), agreed.

“A large part of our future career will be educating patients on preventative health measures or just educating them on their illnesses and their conditions,” Haaland, MD ’17, said.

“Getting used to that, and being introduced early to finding this information and presenting it in a way that is understandable to the public, [who] will be our patients, is a great opportunity.”

-With files from Erin Sylvester

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