June 5, 2020: Message from the Department Head

June 5, 2020: A message from Dr. Anita Palepu, Head, Department of Medicine, UBC


“No matter how bleak or menacing a situation may appear, it does not entirely own us. It can’t take away our freedom to respond, our power to take action.”
Ryder Carroll


These are extraordinary times. The SARS-COV-2 pandemic has altered what we thought life would be in 2020. Best-laid plans have been re-imagined, revised and some put aside. Virtual care, physical distancing, donning and doffing PPE have become our daily reality. Uncertainty remains but I am continuously impressed with your resilience and innovation in these challenging times.

It has been difficult for me to witness the rising tide of anti-Asian and anti-Indigenous sentiments since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Racism and abuse of power, central themes to George Floyd’s murder by police, were horrifying. It is critical that we, as faculty of the UBC Department of Medicine, recognize the fundamental dignity of all people regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. It is important to remind ourselves that we are not immune to racism and prejudice. As faculty, we are responsible to treat each another, our patients, and our learners with respect and dignity.  As university faculty, we all have to recognize our privilege and be mindful of power imbalances in our professional world. The time calls for us to uphold values of inclusion, tolerance and respect.

The best part of being Department Head is celebrating our members’ outstanding contributions to education and research, and to the society at large. At our virtual Awards Breakfast event that we held on June 4, 2020, we were only able to highlight a fraction of such contributions. We also paid tribute to Dr. Ric Arseneau for his contributions to ambulatory education curriculum design and delivery, and Dr. Amanda Hill for her legacy in developing the global health curriculum and elective that generations of residents benefited from, as evidenced by the poignant testimonials. It was wonderful to celebrate together and I look forward to the time when we can be with you all in person again. For now, it is Zoom, patience and fortitude.


Anita Palepu, MD, MPH, FRCPC, MACP
Professor and Eric W. Hamber Chair
Head, Department of Medicine
University of British Columbia