Award: Dr. Bertha Garcia honoured as YMCA Woman of Excellence

Dr. Bertha Garcia began teaching at only 13 years of age in some of Lima, Peru’s poorest neighbourhoods. Those sessions with young school children fed her growing passion for education and teaching, and were the first steps on a journey to becoming one of Canada’s most revered medical educators and clinical leaders.

In recognition of her contributions to science, medicine and education, Dr. Garcia is being honoured with a 2019 YMCA Women of Excellence Award. She shares this distinction with seven other inspirational women in the London community.

Dr. Garcia’s impact as a medical educator, clinical leader and mentor has been profound. For more than three decades, she has taught thousands of students and mentored hundreds of professionals. “Dr. Garcia teaches with a passion and humour and keen understanding of how people learn,” said Professor Emeritus Marjorie Johnson, PhD.

As a strategic leader, Dr. Garcia has changed medical education in Southwestern Ontario, enriching the medical care provided to people living in the region. Through her exemplary clinical leadership, the three clinical pathology departments from London’s hospitals amalgamated, and today function and flourish as a single department.

In a culture with few female leaders, she stands as a role model who values all voices and perspectives. “Bertha is a role model not only for aspiring women leaders, but for anyone who values the science and art of teaching. She leads with curiosity, enthusiasm, impeccable historical knowledge and integrity,” said Dr. Chris Watling, Associate Dean, Postgraduate Medical Education.

Dr. Garcia has also been a tireless advocate for training medical professionals. As a humanitarian at heart, her medical and educational outreach activities extend from London to Peru, Yemen, China and the Caribbean.

“I love what I do,” she said in a 2017 article for Rapport Magazine. “I look forward to coming to work every day. I don’t think I could ever stop teaching, and there are so many ways I can contribute to medical education and society that is not the traditional classroom.”

Dr. Garcia will be honoured at the YMCA Women of Excellence Gala on May 15 at the London Convention Centre. Tickets are available for purchase online.