We’re all in this together –  Faculty from ten countries report on COVID-19

Our friend Google defines “community” as

  1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common, i.e. the scientific community.
  2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Perhaps those wise writers were listening in on OUM’s 26 March University Community Meeting, the first of several planned for the coming weeks.

During the meeting, faculty reported on the COVID-19 status in ten different countries from Russia and Canada to Australia and India. One-third of the OUM community – students, faculty, and staff – joined together to also hear how COVID-19 is impacting students, accommodations that continue to evolve as a result, and creative ways people are dealing with social distancing. Everyone who was unable to attend is encouraged to listen to the recording.

The first report: Thanks to OUM’s groundbreaking distance-learning curriculum established at its founding in 2002, for pre-clinical students – who make up nearly two-thirds of the University – it has largely been business as usual with regard to course schedules, lectures, module registration, etc.

A “thank you” also went out to OUMSA whose suggestion to hold periodic community engagement and support sessions prompted development of the University Community Meeting series.

While much information was shared, reports focused on the topics which have received the most student inquiries. A synopsis of key topics is provided below, but students are, again, encouraged to listen to the meeting recording for full details.

In addition to answering questions which students posed in the week prior to the meeting, it was decided to take advantage of having faculty members in many countries throughout the world make presentations, to learn different perspectives and circumstances of COVID-19 in the countries where they work and live. (Key information from each country and the presenting faculty member are in the chart below, right side of page.)

Dr. Mari Broderson, Clinical Course Director for Psychiatry, closed out the meeting with tips for managing stress during these challenging times.

“We all need to absolutely get outside,” she says. ”Humans were not born to lurk in the shadows. We need to let the sun synthesize Vitamin D for our well-being and for our immune systems.” Dr. Brodersen suggests such things as walking the dog, if you are a dog owner, gardening, birdwatching, hiking, even playing catch in the park, adding that we should not give up our exercise routines whether they take place outdoors or livestreaming indoors.

Additional advice included not discounting the importance of having a sense of humor.

“It is one of the best ways to get through challenging times,” she said. “We also need to continue to be social and connect with one another – text, call, FaceTime – stay in touch.” Dr. Brodersen added that there are many things we used to take for granted that we simply cannot do anymore.

The universal message throughout this first University Community Meeting: We are all in this together – toilet paper challenges and all. (Dr. Brodersen had no explanation for the toilet paper mania, which according to faculty reports, is happening in all countries).

Watch Moodle for announcement of upcoming University Community Meetings, likely to be held weekly. Links referenced above include the 26 March University Community Meeting, Dr. Earl Sempio’s “COVID-19 in the Philippines” website, and Dr. Danya Khoujah’s video report from/about Japan.

Take care, stay safe, stay healthy.