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Leading Change: Michelle Quaye, Medicine Class of 2020

Michelle Quaye is a member of the Schulich Medicine Class of 2020. She aims to use her experience with the Global MINDS Summer Institute as a way to gain greater insight into the treatment and care of mental illness and inform her future practise as a physician.

Quaye discusses her interest in mental health, how she plans to mobilize her learnings from the Summer Institute and her desire to become a leader in global health.

What is your education background and year of study? What other degrees do you hold and where did you complete them?

I previously completed my Honors Bachelor of Medical Sciences degree at Western University

Why did you pursue this opportunity with the Global MINDS Summer Institute? What about this international development project caught your attention?

The Global MINDS Summer Institute offers a unique opportunity for me to collaborate with Kenyan students to address some of the many issues regarding mental health in Kenya that are also present globally. I am looking forward to being a part of the inaugural institute, and coming back with ideas that are relevant here in Canada.

While in Kenya with the Global MINDS Summer Institute you will be working to innovate new mental health solutions in an East African context. What experience (professional or personal) do you have that you think will help you to develop new mental health ideas?

As a first-year medical student, I have heard a lot about the increasing burden of mental health worldwide, and I have been taught about the epidemiology of mental health here in Canada. At the institute, I will be able to bring a health care perspective to the solutions we create.

Why is mental health important to you?

Mental health is important to me because it is relevant to each and every human being in our society. Regardless of the medical specialty I choose to pursue in the future, I can count on having interactions with patients affected by mental illness. Mental health is important to me because I refuse to ignore its importance, and understand that finding ways to address issues surrounding mental health is a team effort, and requires a passion and commitment.

This project uses a transdisciplinary approach to mental health and brings together students from a wide-range of academic specialities and backgrounds. What do you think you can learn from your peers?

I’m really looking forward to learning more about the business innovation aspect of creating solutions. I believe that economic implications are important to consider in a solution in order for it to be sustainable, and am looking forward to learning more about this at the institute.

What is your ultimate goal that you hope to accomplish during your time in Kenya?

My ultimate goal is to come back to Canada with a new perspective. I’ve been lucky enough to have numerous cross-cultural experiences throughout my life, and I have found that in each and every experience my perspectives have widened, and I’ve been able to understand ideas in a new way.

What are you most excited to complete or partake in with the Global MINDS Summer institute?

I am most excited for the synergistic energy that will be built between us Canadian students and the Kenyan students. We each have unique strengths to offer, and combining them will result in new and innovative solutions.

Is there anything specific that you hope to experience or encounter while working on mental health solutions in Kenya?

I hope to gain a better understanding of the mental health care system infrastructure in Kenya. I’m also hoping to be able to identify similarities between the Kenyan and Canadian systems, to better be able to understand how our solutions can be made relevant in Canada.

How do you think this project will influence your 'next steps'?

I have always had a strong interest in global health, in terms of health issues that are relevant in low-resource settings worldwide, regardless of geographical borders. This institute will help me to become a leader in global health –someone who not only sees the issues that exist worldwide, but also knows what approaches to use to fix those systemic problems and takes action.

How do you plan to use the information learned on this trip in your academic studies?

The CanMEDS roles are a list of competencies that physicians are expected to have and are therefore addressed throughout medical education. As medical students, everything we learn is with the hopes of becoming more competent in these areas. The seven roles are: Medical Expert, Health Advocate, Leader, Collaborator, Scholar, Professional, and Manager. I feel that each and every one of these competencies will be addressed to some extent during my time in Kenya, and am looking forward to coming back from the institute as a more competent learner.