Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

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PhD Students & Applicants: COVID-19 FAQ

Last updated Monday May 13, 2020 10:46 AM EDT

Return to the main COVID-19 FAQ page.

What about my thesis proposal defense?
Thesis proposal defenses should proceed as planned. For the next period of time, these may be completed with all members remotely, including students. To support this, we have TEAMS technology (through Office 365 and some access to ZOOM technology. Both technologies allow for meetings such as these – you can hold meetings electronically and if you have a camera on your electronic device, you can see each other on the screen. You can have presentations within TEAMS and ZOOM as well. Our IT department can help you feel comfortable with these technologies. Both are simple to use but you and your Faculty Supervisor have access to TEAMS anytime through Office 365 without requiring administrative support.
What about Final Oral Examinations (FOE)?
FOEs are organized and approved by SGS. FOEs may proceed as planned using remote technology as described above. All examination committee members may participate remotely. Alternately, if students wish to experience the traditional in person FOE, they may delay their FOE.
Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Funding
You will continue to be paid for TA roles and your graduate funding package as stated in your funding letters. Your TA role may alter slightly while teaching and learning in courses is modified. Please make sure you communicate directly with your TA supervisor to discuss any modifications.
PhD Symposium Info
This year, we are changing the PhD Symposium which normally requires your in person participation. Instead, every PhD student, regardless of year in the program, will be required to complete a presentation to their own PhD Committee before the end of June 2020. Our Acting Doctoral Program Director, Professor Edith Hillan, will provide more detail about this required activity.
Thesis Research Info
Your ability to continue or start your thesis research activities (e.g., ethics application and approval, data collection, etc.) in a clinical or other setting may be affected / paused because of the COVID-19 situation. Hospitals and other healthcare-related agencies are focusing on essential services for the next period of time and they may ask all investigators to wind down or twilight their research activities. For those who are conducting research outside healthcare settings, you too may be affected because organizations are refocusing their efforts on the health, protection and safety of individuals and the community at large. If conducting research now, you may have already been notified of this from the clinical agency. Please discuss this with your PhD supervisor and committee. They can guide you how to carry on other important aspects of your academic program such as writing for publication, managing existing data, etc.
What is social / physical distancing?
Social / physical distancing is a public health practice that aims to minimize contact with other persons who may or may not have contracted the virus. The purpose of social / physical distancing is to prevent sick people from passing the virus to healthy people by reducing opportunities for disease transmission.

This generally includes canceling large group events, closing public spaces, avoiding crowds, keeping physical distance from others, and so on.

With COVID-19, the goal of social / physical distancing is to slow down the spread of the virus from person to person and to reduce the burden on health care systems and workers.

How can I help?
We must all make our own decisions about what level of risk we are willing to accept. As future health professionals, the Faculty trusts you will make the responsible decisions.

Volunteer opportunities are independent of academic studies and the University, even if the activities take place on sites that are affiliated with the University (e.g. at major hospitals or with academic appointees requesting volunteers). As a volunteer, the University’s insurance coverage, WSIB, coverage through the University (including the coverage applicable during student placements), financial support, or logistical support would not be available to you for volunteer activities.

Unless the organization or site at which you are volunteering makes it available to you, as a volunteer, you may only be covered in case of injury or illness in the course of volunteering through your OHIP/UHIP and your extended health coverage plan, if you have one. Please make sure you are protecting yourself, following public health advice, and informing yourself of the potential risks of any volunteer opportunity. We ask that you continue to consult the University’s central webpage for links to public health authorities, travel advisories, and student supports including mental health resources. Please stay safe and take care of yourself during these difficult times as you try to help others.

Staying Well/Mental Health

Health and Wellness at St. George campus is open and available for all students. Please visit their website to learn more or book a virtual appointment.

The University encourages everyone to be mindful of their own mental health by:

    • Turning off and stop watching email, the news or social media;
    • Ensure that you are taking time for family or loved ones (even if virtually);
    • Engaging in exercise and relaxation, such as this daily mindfulness exercise
Province of Ontario Supports Postsecondary Students During COVID-19
The government of Ontario is easing the financial burden on students and making sure they can complete their studies during the COVID-19 outbreak by temporarily deferring payments for Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans and making online learning supports, including year-end exams, available to postsecondary institutions. Read more…
COVID-19 contact tracing volunteer opportunity

Researchers, students, medical and allied healthcare professionals with training in data analytics, programming, lab skills, medicine, allied health professions, mental health, public health are needed to help with contact tracing. Learn more about the registry here:

This registry is part of a volunteer-built national website led by Guillaume Bourke of McGill and me: Our website aims to collect, direct and coordinate people involved in COVID19 research across the country. It is supported by multiple U15 universities, and complements a U15-built invitation-only COVID-19 Slack community discussion platform launched in recent days:

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