Disparities in health and education are closer to home than you might think. African Nova Scotians are underrepresented within the health professions and within the health professional schools at Dalhousie. This is largely due to the inequities African Nova Scotians face in accessing these education opportunities and in navigating the complex university system.
Ideally, the diversity among health care professionals would reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. This is important in mitigating existing health disparities, as health care professionals from minority or marginalized groups tend to go back into the community and provide much needed care to these populations.
The African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Initiative is a new program that attempts to address these disparities by promoting equitable access to health professional education here at Dalhousie. The program will accomplish this through one-on-one support and by serving as a link to other resources. However, Michelle Patrick, the new program coordinator of the initiative, described how the program cannot work alone to increase African Nova Scotian representation in the health professions,
Choosing a career as a health professional starts well before university, it starts in the community, in high school and even elementary school.
A simple example of this is how pre-requisite courses are often needed to apply to health professional schools. If a student is unaware of this early on in their high school career, he or she may feel that is too late to pursue a career in the health professions during his or her graduating year. Forming partnerships to help create an educational pipeline that can promote aspiring health professionals early on is key to increasing the application pool of African Nova Scotians to health professional schools at Dalhousie.
The African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Initiative falls under the umbrella of the Global Health Office. Why? When most people hear Global Health, they think of International Health, which has historically only considered countries and populations outside national borders. Global Health provides a more inclusive and holistic view; it’s about looking at all people around the entire world and the health disparities that exist not only between countries, but between individuals within them. Global health issues can be found right at home, which is why this new program’s home is with Dalhousie’s Global Health Office.
Michelle Patrick is busy in her new role, but is always looking for opportunities to connect and provide support for African Nova Scotian students. She is available for one-on-one chats. You can reach her by email at email@example.com or stop by the Global Health Office and be sure to say hi.