“I will not be trained to deny care”

To get into med school, you have to prove a bunch of things.

You have to prove that you understand basic science, so you write your MCAT.You have to prove that you’re a hard worker, by getting good grades in your undergrad.
You have to prove that you can interact with other humans, by going through multiple mini-interviews.
And you have to prove that you’re a healthcare advocate.

That’s defined in the CanMeds competencies (which is a framework of skills that the Royal College has identified as necessary for the development of good physicians)
…responsibly using expertise and influence to advance the health and well-being of individual patients, communities and populations”.  

Notice that it doesn’t say “some communities and populations”, or “whichever communities and populations you identify with”.  There are no modifiers added to that statement.  So you’d think that would mean that, as doctors (or future doctors), we have a responsibility to ALL patients, communities and populations.  First do no harm, right?

Well, not if you’re the Canadian government, it would seem.  In 2012, the government announced sweeping changes to the Interim Federal Health Program, a program under which, all refugees and claimants arriving in Canada were able to access health care.
These changes were called the “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act” , and were introduced under the guise of saving money for both the federal government, and taxpayers of Canada.  In reality, these changes mean that refugees arriving to our country cannot access basic medical care.
They mean that pregnant women are unable to access pre-natal care; diabetic patients cannot access insulin; children cannot access basic immunizations. 
They mean that a country whose global identity is in part defined by universal health care is willing to turn away those who need that care.
It’s been over a year now since these cuts were instated, and healthcare professionals across the whole country have seen firsthand the effect that they’ve had.  Today was the second national Day of Action, protesting these cuts.
Though Jason Kenney, the federal minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism has said that it is only a small group of marginalized radicals that oppose these cuts, today’s nation-wide demonstrations would suggest otherwise.
Here in Hamilton, physicians, nurses, residents, social workers, midwives, medical students and even the Steel Workers turned up to let the Harper government know that this is not okay.
There were speeches, the most wonderful of which was by another medical student, who expressed that “we all entered medical school because we wanted to help people.  We will not be trained to deny care”.

If you agree that Canada should embrace the world’s vulnerable, and that care should not be predicated upon country of origin, take the time to make your voice heard.
Sign this petition, started by the Registered Nurses Association Of Ontario.  Check out this website, Doctors for Refugee Healthcare.  Find your local MP, and write them a letter.  Or go right to the top, and let Minister Kenney know that healthcare is a basic human right. 

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