Award: Student global health leader receives Canadian Medical Hall of Fame’s top honour for medical students
A leader in her community, an effective medical communicator and a promising researcher; Khalidha Nasiri, Medicine Class of 2023, embodies all the values celebrated by the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF) Award for Medical Students.
Each of Canada’s faculties of medicine recommend a single award recipient annually from their second year class of students. Nasiri was selected as the 2021 recipient from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.
During her time at the School, Nasiri has undertaken several research and community engagement initiatives in the areas of global health equity, newcomer and refugee health, medical education, and maternal, newborn and child health. She has contributed to 10 peer-reviewed research publications, and has been a leader in student-led global health initiatives at the School and national level.
“I have a passion for research as a tool to illuminate stories,” shared Nasiri, who is currently also working as a research fellow at a global health consulting firm, collaborating on research investigating disability in Afghanistan.
“Being raised by refugees from a war-torn country with an extremely fragile health system and rampant gender inequality instilled in me a deep appreciation for the importance of human rights and good quality health care for the population. It also motivated me to improve the delivery of health care in low-resource settings both within Canada and abroad.”
Nasiri joined the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) as a National Officer of Global Health Education to work on national global health education projects, including the development of a nationwide survey assessing global health curricula in medical schools — the first since 2008.
As a Local Officer of Global Health Education at the School, she implemented a student-led Global Health Certificate pilot program for medical students, addressing gaps in global health education that exist in the formal medical curricula. Thanks to her efforts, that program is in the process of being certified by the School.
Nasiri has been an active mentor to racialized youth interested in pursuing medicine, as well as an advocate for the Afghan community. In April 2021, a CFMS Medical Student Initiative Grant allowed Nasiri to turn her passion for mentorship into into a formal organization called The Underrepresented in Medicine Project, providing free resources and support to youth from underserved backgrounds who want to attend Canadian medical school.
“I often meet Muslim and racialized youth who aspire to become doctors but do not have access to role models who look like them,” she explained, “This initiative will advance the future of medical education in Canada by ensuring diversity and equity in future medical student cohorts.”
Nasiri also recently founded the non-profit Afghan Youth Engagement and Development Initiative, a venture she has been working on since 2018. Thanks to support from an incubator program backed by the federal government, she hopes to establish youth-led health and wellness initiatives for the Afghan-Canadian community.
“More than $30,000 in funding was provided for youth-led community projects. These projects ranged from things like yoga for Afghan moms in a safe women-only space to a conference on mental health in the Afghan community."
Prior to attending medical school, Nasiri earned her Master of Science in Epidemiology at McGill University in 2019. She was a research intern at the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Department of Reproductive Health and Research, where she collaborated on a research project with colleagues from Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, and Myanmar based on the WHO Multi-Country Survey on the Mistreatment of Women during Childbirth. The results of that project were published in the journal BMJ Global Health, with Nasiri as co-first author. She also previously worked on Parliament Hill as a staffer in the office of a federal cabinet minister.
As part of the award, Nasiri will receive a cash prize of $5,000, and a travel subsidy to attend the 2022 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Ottawa, Ontario where she will have the opportunity to meet CMHF Laureates and health leaders from across the country. For more information about the CMHF Award for Medical Students recipients, visit: https://cdnmedhall.ca/2021cmhfaward.