STARS Spotlight: Emma McDermott

STARS alum Emma McDermott shares future plans to lead resource stewardship efforts in practice.

STARS Spotlight: Emma McDermott

STARS alum Emma McDermott shares future plans to lead resource stewardship efforts in practice.

Inspiring the next generation of student leaders to choose wisely is no small task. It’s one of the many goals of the STARS (Students and Trainees Advocating for Resource Stewardship) program that invites student leaders from across the country to learn about resource stewardship in their pre-clinical training.

It’s encouraging to see that STARS alumni, like Emma McDermott, are continuing their resource stewardship leadership beyond the program.

Emma is a fourth-year medical student at Dalhousie University. In 2020, she joined STARS to learn about ways to address the downstream consequences and avoidable harms caused by unnecessary testing and treatments. The values of resource stewardship deeply resonate with Emma, who has an interest in preventative health care, physician advocacy, and system improvements.

During her time with the STARS program, Emma and other student leaders were involved in curriculum reviews, the development of an interprofessional course, and the creation of an award to recognize residents or faculty that demonstrate the importance of resource stewardship and Choosing Wisely recommendations to learners through medical education.

More recently, Emma collaborated with others at Dalhousie University to understand medical students’ perceptions of the Choosing Wisely Canada campaign. This included a questionnaire to over 3,000 students across the country. The survey found while medical students recognize the importance of Choosing Wisely Canada, more work needs to be done to foster a workplace culture of putting recommendations into practice. These findings were recently presented at Choosing Wisely Canada’s National Meeting held in May 2022.

Beyond the STARS Program

Building on her efforts and past experiences in resource stewardship, Emma is applying this lens to climate change in health care.

“Choosing Wisely and planetary health go hand in hand,” says Emma. “There is an overall mindset of only do what we need to avoid harm to patients and the environment while still ensuring we are providing high-quality care.”

According to Emma, she is seeing a significant shift in interest and mobilization efforts to connect environmental sustainability and clinician practice, particularly from the student community. Some examples include the Canadian Federation of Medical Students national report on planetary health and the Planetary Health Alliance’s development of a report card on evaluating and improving planetary health content in health professional schools. Emma is also the co-founder of the Dal Med Green Team, a student group focused on building a local network of like-minded health care providers in the Maritimes.

“We are already seeing the effects of climate change on the health of Canadians, and as the next generation of practising clinicians, we will soon be the ones on the frontlines managing the impacts on our patients and the public,” says Emma. 

Emma is looking forward to continuing advocacy efforts in planetary health and preventative health care as she completes medical school. Emma continues to stay engaged in STARS as part of the Advisory Trainee Committee to provide feedback on current student projects within the program.