Teaching the Social Determinants of Health: A Path to Equity or a Road to Nowhere?

“Medical schools are increasingly called to include social responsibility in their mandates. As such, they are focusing their attention on the social determinants of health (SDOH) as key drivers in the health of the patients and communities they serve. However, underlying this emphasis on the SDOH is the assumption that teaching medical students about the SDOH will lead future physicians to take action to help achieve health equity. There is little evidence to support this belief. In many ways, the current approach to the SDOH within medical education positions them as “facts to be known” rather than as “conditions to be challenged and changed.” Educators talk about poverty but not oppression, race but not racism, sex but not sexism, and homosexuality but not homophobia. The current approach to the SDOH may constrain or even incapacitate the ability of medical education to achieve the very goals it lauds, and in fact perpetuate inequity. In this article, the authors explore how “critical consciousness” and a recentering of the SDOH around justice and inequity can be used to deepen collective understanding of power, privilege, and the inequities embedded in social relationships in order to foster an active commitment to social justice among medical trainees. Rather than calling for minor curricular modifications, the authors argue that major structural and cultural transformations within medical education need to occur to make educational institutions truly socially responsible.”

Read the full article here.

British Columbia COVID-19 Vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by Health Canada are safe, effective and will save lives.

Vaccines do more than protect the people getting vaccinated, they also protect everyone around them. The more people in a community who are vaccinated and protected from COVID-19, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

Two vaccines, the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine, have been approved for use by Health Canada.

Reminder: Provincial Health Officer (PHO) orders and guidelines remain in place for everyone, regardless if they have received the vaccine.

Learn more about the cost, vaccine safety, and distribution via BC Gov.

Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines via CDC

Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?

No. Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.​

If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, vaccine should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. CDC is providing recommendations to federal, state, and local governments about who should be vaccinated first.

Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick with COVID-19.

Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.

Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines via CDC.
Vaccines for COVID-19 via BC Centre for Disease Control.
Tips on finding credible information on COVID-19 vaccines via CDC.

6th International Faculty Development in the Health Professions Conference

The AMEE conference is excited to announce that the 6th IFDHP conference “Faculty Development in Times of Extraordinary Change” will be held on Saturday, August 28, 2021 from 8:00-4:30 pm GMT

Goals of the conference are: 

  1. To share and discuss how faculty developers promote and demonstrate adaptive expertise in the context of change 
  2. To address how faculty developers utilize change science/change management approaches in their work at individual and institutional levels. 
  3. To provide a forum for shared learning across the global faculty development community 

    February 5, 2021 is the deadline for innovation and research (short communications) and workshop abstract submission. Abstracts should be submitted to the AMEE conference abstract submission here.  

Anti-racism Praxis in Canadian Health Education: Reflections & Directions

Taqdir Kaur Bhandal
Ph.D. Candidate, UBC Social Justice Institute

Presentation: Anti-racism Praxis in Canadian Health Education: Reflections & Directions

Date: Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Time: 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Zoom ID: For connection details, please email ches.communications@ubc.ca.

During this presentation participants will:

  • Learn the definition of ‘race’ through the lens of social justice, so we can have a reference point for where to start unraveling threads.
  • Take away 3 tips that can be used to braid anti-racism practice into health education classrooms and research.
  • Practice one of the tips together through a group meditation to support stress release during the anti-racism paradigm shift.


Taq Kaur Bhandal is a Ph.D. candidate at UBC, and work with theories & practices of intersectionality and anti-racism. She is part of the Mahwari Research Institute team, an independent think tank studying pleasurable living, pelvic health, and periods.

Cannabis: Reducing Fentanyl & Overdose Risk

“Untreated opioid use disorder is a key driver of the overdose crisis in BC and across the United States and Canada, and expanding access to evidence-based addiction care like OAT has been identified as an urgent need and a key part of BC’s response. Research has found that without access to and rapid scale-up of take home naloxone, overdose prevention services, and OAT, the number of overdose deaths in B.C. would be 2.5 times as high. However, while more British Columbians diagnosed with an opioid use disorder are being connected to evidence-based treatments, retention on these medications remains a challenge. People who are retained in OAT face much lower risks of dying from an overdose, acquiring HIV or suffering other harms of drug use compared to people who are out of treatment.

Cannabis may play an important role in supporting retention on OAT. Previous research from the BCCSU found that individuals initiating OAT who reported using cannabis on a daily basis were approximately 21 per cent more likely to be retained in treatment at six months than non-cannabis users. This was the first study to find a beneficial link between high-intensity cannabis use and retention in treatment among people initiating OAT.

The findings published today add to an emerging body of research suggesting cannabis could have a stabilizing impact for many patients on treatment, while also reducing the risk of overdose.”

More on Cannabis could reduce fentanyl use, reduce overdose risk via UBC Medicine News.

Boosting Federal Health Transfers

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised after meeting with premiers that the federal government will increase transfer payments to the provinces for health care after the immediate crisis of the pandemic is over.

It’s not the immediate increase of at least $28 billion more in unconditional transfers each year the premiers were seeking. However, Trudeau said the federal government will increase its share of the cost of health care in the years to come, and continue to help provinces with extra costs linked to the pandemic, ‘whatever it takes, as long as this pandemic lasts.’

That includes fully covering the cost of COVID-19 vaccines, so ‘the provinces and territories won’t have to use their funding,’ and creating a federal compensation program for people who experience rare adverse reactions.”

More on Trudeau promises to boost federal health transfers when the pandemic is over via CMAJ.

Lyme Carditis

Image via Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Carditis: JACC Review

“Lyme disease, caused by the tick-borne spirochete bacterium Borrelia spp., is becoming increasingly prevalent in Canada. Lyme carditis is a rare but important early disseminated manifestation of the disease, which can present with high-degree atrioventricular block in otherwise healthy young adults. Timely treatment of Lyme carditis with appropriate antibiotics can lead to complete resolution. However, patients with Lyme carditis often have missed or late diagnoses, which can result in unnecessary pacemaker implantations, complications, and even fatalities. Considering Lyme carditis in the differential diagnosis of young patients presenting with new atrioventricular blocks is critical to ensuring timely diagnosis and treatment.”

Lyme Carditis: A Can’t Miss Diagnosis via BCMJ.