Report: Student Leaders Conference
This article will appear in the April 2022 issue of FOCUS.
This report was written by the University of Toronto student leaders who attended the 2022 Student Leaders Conference. The SLC was held online, but the Toronto students opted to meet in person and joined as a group via ZOOM.
God was on call with me 24/7, said Dr. Kami Kandola. Upon hearing this statement, there was a widespread tangible sound of awe-struck understanding expressed by the future CMDA Canada leaders during the student leadership conference. As medical and dental students, this statement resonated with us and became the highlight of the conference. It painted vivid imagery in our minds, showing that just like how Jesus walked alongside the believers in the Bible, he would walk alongside us during this sacred calling of loving the human race through healing deeds rooted in truth and love.
After many months of seeing each other over the virtual interface of ZOOM, the leadership conference came at an opportune time for us to interact and grow with each other. The conference was impactful in many ways, not only the fact that it was in person, but also that it allowed us to enhance our connections amongst leaders, rejuvenate our spiritual walk, and be inspired by dentists and physicians who integrate their faith into their practice.
During one of the many empowering talks, Dr. Dan Reilly tackled the topic of how to discuss challenging ethical subjects. Beyond formulating one’s own stance on an issue, he emphasized the importance of knowing the context, knowing which directions a conversation like this can lead, and how to address the root of the question based on the person asking it. As students entering the health field, we are gaining the knowledge to address these questions from a more scientific and a secular point of view. Dr. Reilly’s talk helped us to navigate these questions in love and truth.
During the conference, we were able to hear from a panel of doctors, dentists, as well as medical and dental students who shared their own personal ways of integrating faith into their practice. One of the speakers was Dr. Kami Kandola, who shared her experience as the Chief Public Health Officer for the Northwest Territories and her role during the pandemic. She expressed the tremendous pressure and overwhelming demands that her job required and the burnout she experienced during these past two years. Although the world around her seemed to be constantly changing, she was able to find peace and comfort knowing that God’s presence was constant in her life. This personal account inspired and motivated us to continually seek God when we face hardship in our careers and our lives in general.
The conversations surrounding future student leadership and operations in CMDA Canada allowed a time of reflection on how God has worked with our Medical and Dental fellowships. We celebrated the increased presence of new first year students joining our weekly Friday Bible studies. The online gatherings have allowed many students facing burnout and fatigue to find rest and a renewed sense of purpose. Moving forward, we envisioned new ways of engaging our non-Christian friends and colleagues to discover a life with Christ. These include collaboration with other Christian Fellowships, having early morning prayers, and joint worship events that are inviting to non-believers. As many students around us will become people of influence in our communities, we sensed an urgency to share the Gospel. We hope that through our student ministry, we are able to partake in God’s plan of developing a generation of leaders that serve and honour Christ in all that they are called to do.
Before wrapping up for the day, we had the opportunity to learn more about what it means to be committed to CMDA Canada and learned more about what Christian leadership and teamwork looks like. Taking a deeper look at this, it became clear that the one important value for Christian leaders to uphold is that Jesus Christ is glorified in every decision made. Team members also have a role in praying for each other and supporting each other in correction. We were also reminded that leadership and teamwork takes humility. Although this may be difficult at times, we are continually reminded that all things are possible with Christ.
The Student Leaders Conference was a time to engage, encourage, and equip ourselves with faith tools that we will harness in our leadership. We also know that there exists a wide support network of Christian physicians and dentists whom we can lean on. We would like to express our utmost gratitude for the CMDA Canada leaders for organizing this conference. We look forward to how God will continue to work through us to serve our fellow colleagues, patients, and world at large.