The Dalhousie community has been hard at work! While our last few posts in this series have focused on our new program coordinator, Michelle Patrick, and her role in addressing the underrepresentation of African Nova Scotians within the health professions, her role is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Behind her is the support and groundwork of a hard working group of individuals here at Dalhousie, the African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Advisory Committee.
The committee was established in 2011. Under the faculty of medicine, its members looked to address the underrepresentation of African Nova Scotians in the profession of medicine and on a larger scale, improve health outcomes within the African Nova Scotian community. Over the years, their mandate has expanded to include all health faculties, in order to improve health outcomes for all Nova Scotians.
The committee, through an advisory role to the Dean of medicine, was intended to assist the Faculty of Medicine in fulfilling its social accountability mandate to the African Nova Scotian community. This involved promoting and supporting equity in admissions, student resident support, faculty recruitment and retention, curriculum development and research relevant to the community. However, they have accomplished so much more.
In addition to these formal expectations, the committee has managed to organize visits from speakers, Dr. Chad Williams, Dr. David Haase, and Dr. Will Ross in their “Doctors from African Nova Scotian Communities: Making it Happen” event. They have also managed to award bursaries to first year medical students, get into the “Medical School community event”, and have seen an increase in the representation of students of African descent in Dalhousie’s medical school.
The committee realized it needed a full-time coordinator to dedicate much needed time to the coordination and consultation around the development, implementation and monitoring of programs to enhance African Nova Scotian engagement. And this is where Michelle Patrick comes in. She is an extension of the wonderful work the committee is doing. Through encouraging engagement of local community based organizations with the committee, her role will enable strategic development in order to attract African Nova Scotian students. She will also assist the committee’s activities through the development and implementation of a pipeline program (including elementary, junior, and senior high schools) for careers in health, dentistry and medicine, and through culturally specific training for staff and faculty in health professions, dentistry and medicine, among many other activities.
Stay tuned for the official program launch, however the African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Advisory Committee and their new addition to the team, Michelle Patrick are, as always, hard at work. And we can be sure to expect more stimulating lectures and events, such as the most recent “Is Racism a Determinant of Health?”, with Dr. Williams, and the upcoming summer program for African Nova Scotian youth.