Canadian Medical Students Overcame the Pandemic and Organized an Online Country-Wide Symposium

On April 17, 2021, the second annual Canadian Symposium took place over Zoom! The first Canadian Symposium happened in 2019 after Canadian student leaders were inspired to plan a Canadian-specific conference after attending MSFC’s Conference on Family Planning in 2017. The first Symposium was a great success, leading to student interest in making it an annual event.

In fall 2019, a group of medical students across Canada assembled a planning committee and got to work to begin planning an in-person conference for March 2020. Due to COVID-19, we ultimately ended up postponing the Symposium so the student planners could decide in a few months if an in-person conference was feasible. In fall 2020, the planning committee reconvened and decided to move forward with planning an online conference for spring 2021.

The planning committee was able to rework the original schedule to suit an online format. Many of the speakers they had originally confirmed for the in-person Symposium were willing to participate virtually. It was very important to the planning committee to provide a hands-on learning opportunity, so they decided to include a limited enrollment virtual MVA workshop using supplies borrowed from MSFC HQ. Other sessions included The Impact of COVID-19 on Abortion Care, Trauma-Informed Care & Indigenous People, Trans Reproductive Health, and an abortion provider panel with providers across Canada.

Around 80 Canadian medical students registered for the conference, and over half of registrants attended at least a portion of the conference. We received positive feedback about the Symposium via email and through our feedback survey – one participant said “Thank you so much for organizing this, I really enjoyed it and learned a lot and it made me want to be an abortion provider!”

We are so proud of our student planning committee and look forward to the next Canadian Symposium!