All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope. ~ Winston Churchill
I love this quote from Winston Churchill. Of course, it comes from war times, but, at least to me, it feels a bit like we have been through a war of sorts this last year and half. There is no question it has been hard. People have lost their lives and suffered harm as a result of COVID, racism, and violence. We have had our assumptions, biases and inequities laid bare. We have given tirelessly of ourselves as doctors, researchers, educators, advocates, leaders, parents, children, partners, and siblings. We are tired and maybe still a little scared and a lot wondering about what comes next and how much longer we can tolerate the uncertainty.
But when I look at this last year, I see that we have done amazing and hard things. We not only survived three surges of COVID, but in collaboration with BJC, we kept our community safe, delivered heroic care to suffering patients and families, developed and implemented testing and contact tracing, served as experts and educators on COVID to the region and nation, and supported the effective immunization of our learners, faculty, staff and the broader St Louis community. We demonstrated duty and mercy in our work. We continually advocated for and supported academic freedom and the importance of science in the face of widespread misinformation. Because of this work, we have been able to begin the process of returning to a new normal, slowly and progressively. We began the long and hard process of dismantling racism in medicine and medical education. Our Executive Faculty have strongly supported this work, undergoing extensive training themselves and supporting required training for all in the coming year. We participated in and spurred similar work at the national level through AMA, AAMC, and other national organizations. There is much to do and a long road ahead but we have demonstrated an abiding commitment to justice and honor. And, of course, we supported the education and professional development of our wonderful learners throughout these challenging times, ensuring they have the knowledge, attitudes and skills to go forth and lead the future of medicine.
We close this academic year with much to be proud of. While there is no question that the next few months and years will hold significant change and challenge, I am filled with hope. Hope that together we can do the hard things we must and are called to do. Hope that we can change the world for the better. And finally a firm belief that our perseverance and commitment to academic freedom, justice, honor, duty and mercy will see us through to our goals of advancing human health through the best clinical care, innovative research and the education of tomorrow’s leaders in biomedicine in a culture that supports diversity, inclusion, critical thinking and creativity.