Dear Valued Students,
I want to start by expressing my heartfelt welcome to the 2021-22 Academic Year at the de Souza Institute at the Michener/UHN School of Continuing Education. As always, we are excited for you to join us across our many courses, programs and workshops, and to offer you exceptional learning with our expert teachers and instructors.
The student experience we aim to create for you is limited not only to the quality of teaching and learning. Michener is committed to the health and safety of our students and our community. Vaccines have been recognized by authorities as a safe and effective way to protect you and those around you from serious illness due to COVID-19. The Michener Institute of Education at UHN – in alignment with the University Health Network policy, mandatory requirements by the Ministry of Heath, and expectations for post-secondary institutions – will require all students and employees who access Michener for in-person events to be vaccinated. For regional chemotherapy workshops, we will also ask you to understand and follow your local, regional, or workshop hosting institution vaccination requirements.
Proof of vaccination is not required of students who are learning completely online.
To work or study in person at Michener, students and employees will be required to have at minimum their first dose of a two-dose approved Health Canada or World Health Organization vaccine by September 7. Michener will release a vaccination policy shortly that will describe how to report vaccination status and the date by which a second dose must be received. The policy will also address all visitors who access the campus. We will also have a process to accommodate individuals who cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code. That policy will be accessible to de Souza Institute learners on Michener.ca. Proof of vaccination is not required of students who are learning completely online. You will, however, need to demonstrate proof of vaccination if you require entry to Michener’s site for any reason.
Michener will continue to follow existing health and safety measures as set by public health – such as mask-wearing, vigorous cleaning, capacity limits in common spaces and regular self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms. Michener will also continue to monitor for any changes to public health guidelines and review our policies accordingly.
If you are coming onsite to Michener or UHN as a Continuing Education learner, you will be required to demonstrate proof of vaccination, and present it with one piece of government-issued ID. You can access your vaccine receipt here. If this policy impacts your ability to participate, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you all for your cooperation and understanding during this time.
Director, Continuing Education
Natural Language Processing–Based Virtual Cofacilitator for Online Cancer Support Groups: Protocol for an Algorithm Development and Validation Study
- Authors: Yvonne W Leung, PhD; Elise Wouterloot, MA; Achini Adikari, BSc; Graeme Hirst, PhD; Daswin de Silva, PhD; Jiahui Wong, PhD; Jacqueline L Bender, PhD; Mathew Gancarz, MMSc; David Gratzer, MD; Damminda Alahakoon, PhD; Mary Jane Esplen, PhD
- Published in: JMIR Research Protocols, Volume 10, Number 1, 2021, DOI: 10.2196/21453
- Funding Source: Ontario Institute for Cancer Research Cancer Care Ontario Health Services Research Network
Cancer and its treatment can significantly impact the short- and long-term psychological well-being of patients and families. Emotional distress and depressive symptomatology are often associated with poor treatment adherence, reduced quality of life, and higher mortality. Cancer support groups, especially those led by health care professionals, provide a safe place for participants to discuss fear, normalize stress reactions, share solidarity, and learn about effective strategies to build resilience and enhance coping. However, in-person support groups may not always be accessible to individuals; geographic distance is one of the barriers for access, and compromised physical condition (eg, fatigue, pain) is another. Emerging evidence supports the effectiveness of online support groups in reducing access barriers.
Text-based and professional-led online support groups have been offered by Cancer Chat Canada. Participants join the group discussion using text in real time. However, therapist leaders report some challenges leading text-based online support groups in the absence of visual cues, particularly in tracking participant distress. With multiple participants typing at the same time, the nuances of the text messages or red flags for distress can sometimes be missed. Recent advances in artificial intelligence such as deep learning–based natural language processing offer potential solutions. This technology can be used to analyze online support group text data to track participants’ expressed emotional distress, including fear, sadness, and hopelessness. Artificial intelligence allows session activities to be monitored in real time and alerts the therapist to participant disengagement.
We have developed and are evaluating an artificial intelligence–based cofacilitator prototype to track and monitor online support group participants’ distress through real-time analysis of text-based messages posted during synchronous sessions.
This study received ethics approval in August 2019. Phase 1, development of an artificial intelligence–based cofacilitator, was completed in January 2020. As of December 2020, phase 2 is underway. The study is expected to be completed by September 2021.
Every year on the first Tuesday in April, we celebrate the work of oncology nurses across the country. Oncology nurses play a pivotal role in the care of individuals and their families living with cancer and have an immense impact on their quality of life throughout the cancer journey.
In this unprecedented time of COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing first-hand the dedication of oncology nurses as they rise to the challenge and continue to provide critical care to patients and families, helping them manage difficulties associated with cancer and cancer treatments while addressing their fear of infection. We at de Souza, want to thank and acknowledge these nurses for their brave and selfless work. To those on the frontlines, we applaud you and stand with you.
Stay safe and take good care,
de Souza Institute
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