Continuing the tradition

Dr. Helena Hamdan

By Jennifer Parraga, BA'93

Dr. Helena Hamdan, MD’05, always knew she would teach medical students. And with mentors such as Drs. Mark Awuku, Barbara Heartwell and Dale Ziter, this family physician has definitely been exposed to some of the best role models around.

Already teaching for six years as part of the Schulich Medicine –Windsor Campus, Dr. Hamdan is expanding her academic role as the new Assistant Coordinator for the Family Medicine residency program in Windsor.

Dr. Hamdan’s connection with the Windsor Campus dates back to 2003, when she was one of the first of a small group of students who completed their clerkship in the Windsor area. Her family medicine residency followed, and upon graduation she set up shop in her new hometown.

Getting established with a new practice occupied Dr. Hamdan for a few years, however, it wasn’t long before she reconnected with the School, and this time as a teacher. “I wanted to take the time to set up my practice,” she said. “But as soon as I felt ready, and knew that I could give what was needed and that the students would benefit from my involvement, I decided to start teaching.” Dr. Hamdan began by taking residents and then added undergraduate students.

For Dr. Hamdan, teaching means being able to pay-it-forward to the School and strengthen an already great program. “During my residency, there were so many people who helped me out, taught me to be a better person, and the principles of being a valued physician, and I took those lessons to heart,” she said. “Now I want to pass them on.”

In her new role as Assistant Coordinator, Dr. Hamdan will help to craft the future of the residency program and providing input that will continue to enrich the learning experiences for residents. She will also play a key role in CaRMS recruitment by promoting the program and participating in interviews.

As part of the undergraduate program, Dr. Hamdan will continue teaching in Patient Centred Clinical Methods, supporting Consolidation and the Family Medicine section. And she will also continue as an OSCE examiner.

She’s also hoping to mentor students once again – a role she really enjoyed having this past year. Serving as a mentor, Dr. Hamdan worked closely with a small group of students. They met over dinner, in a relaxed environment, where she had the chance to answer questions and provide guidance. “We went out about four or five times as a group, and it was just nice to talk to the students answer their questions, hear their stories – the things they were proud of or challenged by, and let them vent a bit,” she said. “It was good to reassure them that at the other end it would be just fine.”

It wasn’t too long ago that Dr. Hamdan was a medical student herself, so as the new academic year gets underway, what advice would she give to her undergraduate medical student self? “Enjoy it,” she said. “Take the necessary steps to plan and study, but take it one step at a time, take it all in and enjoy.”