By: Ola Sobodu, Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick (DMNB) student
On March 1st, 2020, I witnessed the first ever congregation of Black medical students representing all 17 medical schools in Canada. It was the inaugural annual general meeting (AGM) of the Black Medical Students Association of Canada (BMSAC). The BMSAC was created (by two outstanding students of University of Manitoba- Helen Teklemariam, and Yohanna Asghedom) to foster community partnerships to address the unique challenges faced by Black patients and health care professionals, through a focus on education, health improvement, and promoting the practice of culturally safe care.
Medical students will attend the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario Annual Health Symposium on Saturday February 29th 2020 to learn about racial disparities in health care and engage in discussions on topics pertinent to the community.
The weekend was as much fun as it was educational. There were various informative sessions including a review of Diabetes and A1c management with a focus on Black patients, a talk on the strides in diversity that have been made in Canadian medical institutions over the past decade, and an interactive advocacy session. I was able to make valuable connections with fellow medical students, network, and learn from physicians of various specialties. Indeed, it was beyond inspiring to be among a group of such talented individuals with a shared passion and identity.
During the AGM, I was also elected as the Atlantic regional director on the association’s first executive board. Through this position, I hope to work to create a community of support for black medical students in the Atlantic provinces, and to contribute as a community, to the continuous improvement of healthcare in Atlantic Canada through advocacy and volunteer work.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I remain grateful to Dalhousie for providing financial support that allowed me to have been in attendance.
As a part of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation funding the Dalhousie Indigenous and African Nova Scotia Conference bursary program is designed as an initiative for Indigenous students and African Nova Scotians at Dalhousie University. The goal of the program is to enable students to attend extracurricular programing, such as conferences, as part of their professional development.
The National Black Medical Students’ Association of Canada (NBMSAC) is a student-led organization whose mission is to create a collaborative network of Black medical students across Canada. The association was created to raise awareness about the growing, albeit limited, number of Black students within medicine in Canada, and to address the unique challenges faced by Black patients and health care professionals.