Community Connections to Enrich Representation

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In late August, 171 Schulich Medicine students began their first year of undergraduate medical school studies. Starting medical school during a worldwide pandemic will set their journey apart from their upper year classmates.

Their range of backgrounds and perspectives is also setting them apart and signals an important step forward in admissions for the School. Eighty-three per cent of the students reported that they would be the first in the family to attend medical school, and 55 per cent self-identify as being from a racialized group.

I’m grateful to those people who have chosen to support the School so that we can in turn make a difference in our community and with the future of the medical profession.

"I’M GRATEFUL TO THOSE WHO HAVE CHOSEN TO SUPPORT THE SCHOOL, SO THAT IN TURN MAKE WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE." KEVIN KRYSIAK

Dr. Tisha Joy, Associate Dean, Admissions, who led the changes made to the School’s admissions process, believes when you have peers with diverse experiences and diverse perspectives, you are able to learn from each other and problem solve together and that creates an environment that encourages more empathic and compassionate care for the patients and communities you serve.

Increasing representation in medical school programs is at the heart of MedReach, a student committee led by Aaisham Ali, Mitali Chaudhary and Kevin Krysiak, all members of the Schulich Medicine Class of 2022.

And it’s thanks to donor support that MedReach was able to reach out to secondary school students in the community and begin to make change. Donor dollars help to fund committees, programs and clubs under the Hippocratic Council, which is the representative body of medical students and provides oversight to programming for groups like MedReach.

MedReach’s goal is to connect with underprivileged and at-risk youth and present information about the potential pathway to higher education and medical school. Committed to seeing increased representation in medicine, Ali, Chaudhary and Krysiak developed and formalized programming to create sustainable and long-term outreach opportunities for the committee.

During the past year, they had the opportunity to connect with students through London’s Cross Cultural Learner Centre – a registered charity whose mission is to provide support so that newcomers to the community can thrive. They also spent time with youth being cared for at Parkwood Institute – one of the city’s mental health care centres.

The creative programming included presentations about the pathway to higher education and medical school, available bursaries and scholarships, as well as course and transferable skills. A tour of on-campus facilities and mini workshops were also off ered.

For Krysiak, MedReach was a full circle experience. “My mom came to Canada as refugee, and I never pictured myself being a physician. I didn’t even plan on going to university,” he said. “I didn’t benefit from mentorship and I really wanted to help out kids who were like me.”

Ali, Chaudhary and Krysiak agree that the most rewarding part of MedReach is knowing that they had the opportunity to connect with at least one person through their presentations.

“There was always that one student who would stay behind to ask us questions and to see our stethoscopes and that was gratifying,” Ali said.

The three student leads are grateful for the donor support, which not only gave them the opportunity to engage with the community, but to make change.

“The fact that we are actually being supported through donor dollars and have the resources to make direct contact in the community and inspire young people is a pretty big privilege,” said Chaudhary.

“MedReach is about mentorship and is inspiring young people to see their future,” said Krysiak. “You can’t always see change right away, and it’s a little like the butterfly effect, if you can give just a small nudge to someone or something – you can create something bigger. I’m grateful to those people who have chosen to support the School so that we can in turn make a difference in our community and with the future of the medical profession.”