By: Mercedes Stemm, Program Assistant, Indigenous Health in Medicine, Dalhousie BSc in Neuroscience/Indigenous Studies Student
Kelsey Shea is from Halifax and she completed a BSc (2013) and MSc in Kinesiology (2018) from Dalhousie University. In 2017, she moved to Ottawa to start medical school. As a Métis medical student, she is interested in Indigenous health as well as finding ways to increase Indigenous representation in the medical field. She developed a mentorship program for Indigenous students interested in medical school at the University of Ottawa.
This fall, I had the opportunity to speak with Kelsey about her experience and better understand what motivates her.
Why you were interested in developing the mentorship program?
“The path to medical school can be overwhelming and stressful. I know that I would not be where I am today without guidance and support from others, so I have always been more than willing to provide the same to anyone who is interested in applying. I think this is true of most students who have been through the process. The reason I wanted to develop a mentorship program, specifically for Indigenous students interested in medicine, is because of the lack of Indigenous representation in medicine, as well as the alarming health disparities among Indigenous peoples in comparison to the general Canadian population. With support from the University of Ottawa, we were able to create a program which offers one-on-one mentoring as well as group sessions to assist students in the years leading up to and including applying to medical school”
What are your thoughts on Dalhousie having a mentorship program similar to the one you have founded?
“I think it is incredible that Dalhousie is starting a mentorship program for Indigenous students interested in medicine. While it is crucial to get information to students relating to medicine and help them explore it as a possible career, it is equally important for participants in the program to have Indigenous mentors, which will be a great asset to this program. I believe that having more medical Indigenous mentorship programs will not only increase the number of Indigenous individuals in medicine, but also improve healthcare outcomes for Indigenous populations for years to come. Initiatives such as these make me very proud to be a Dalhousie graduate.”
Mentorship Program at Dalhousie
In September 2020, a pilot mentorship program was established in collaboration with the Bachelor of Medical Sciences led in partnership with Indigenous Health in Medicine (IHIM) program and Promoting Leadership in health in African Nova Scotians (PLANS). The funding for this program is part of a collaboration with the Johnson Scholarship Foundation.
The creation of this pilot Mentorship Program enhances connections for Black and Indigenous students with other Black and Indigenous students, faculty and/or professionals by providing guidance through academic and professional development. Evidence shows that increased supports improve completion rates of programs, decrease student stress levels, and increase self-efficacy.
IHIM and PLANS developed the program including the matching of students with a mentee; develop skills building sessions and provide support to the teams as they get to know each other over the next year.
With this blog series we will be featuring interviews with mentors and mentees as we follow them through this program.