Written by: Madeline Kubiseski, Master of Health Administration Student
Taha Khan is a current IMU student graduating in April 2019. She is originally from Chennai, India and I was fortunate to sit down with her and discuss her experience at Dalhousie Medical School and her future career plans.
Looking back, how was your transition from IMU to Dalhousie?
Overall my transition was very smooth, and this was predominately because of the Link Program. When we first came here, we knew the system was very different in terms of how students enter medical school and the academic and life experiences that students in Canada have before entering medicine compared to us. For me, this was quite intimidating but after going through the Link program and entering classes in September I felt much more prepared and this was a really good feeling. Specifically, the clinical skills of the Link program were very helpful in preparing me.
What were you most excited about coming to Dalhousie?
Coming to Canada I was most excited about the winter! I had never seen snow before, so this was my first proper winter and I really enjoyed it. Apart from that, I was excited about transitioning to the North American system because of the clinical exposure you receive here. This is very different from the clinical experience you would get in the British or Australian system; the system here is more hands on and you are given much more responsibility which I have found to be true during clerkship. I have loved this!
In your opinion, which areas of your educational program at Dalhousie were particularly strong?
Overall, the program was very strong. Our hands-on skills were really emphasized throughout clerkship and I never felt like I was behind my classmates. We were supported through our gaps and if I didn’t know something or feel confident, I was always encouraged to go ahead and try it out. I remember my first call shift during clerkship I was terrified of being on call but throughout this experience I have gained more confidence and always felt very supported by the staff, nurses and residents.
Can you talk about some of your other goals coming in the Clerkship Program, and whether you’ve been able to reach them?
When I started clerkship, I found it hard to believe I would be a doctor in two years, and I didn’t think that would be enough time to prepare me for medicine. As I finish clerkship and as I have had the opportunity to visit teaching hospitals in the United States, I feel I am very well prepared even compared to their own students. This was reinforced by the physicians and staff in the U.S. who told me I was working like a first-year resident. I now feel more confident about my skills and my abilities.
Aside from medicine, I have goals for my non-profit, Child Awareness Project, which I started when I was 15. We are predominately youth run and focus on children’s right issues and youth empowerment and advocacy. I want to incorporate my medical training into this and hopefully conduct health awareness camps and health initiatives for children in India. My medical training at Dalhousie has helped me get one step closer to this. I plan to pursue child neurology in my residency which will help to give me enough knowledge about child issues in India.
Where are you currently going after graduating from Dalhousie?
Initially I was planning to do residency in Newfoundland. However, with recent changes in how Newfoundland accepts residents, I decided to change my career plan. I decided to pursue a Master of Public Health at Harvard University in September which is really exciting for me. I have always been interested in public health as a field, particularly because of my not-for-profit and interest in children’s rights. As a result, I have always been interested in expanding my medical training into public policy and other areas where I can work to improve children’s rights. Additionally, I want to expand my expertise in statistics and the ability to critically analyze and examine various papers and studies and I feel that the public health degree will help me to do that. This is a one-year program and then I plan to apply for residency next year. After I finish residency I hope to work in the field and get more experience and then eventually go back to India to work with my non-for-profit.
Can you share more about the Child Awareness Project?
Child Awareness Project (CAP) is a Chennai-based NGO that grew out of a campaign, that I started, at the age of 15, to help find a 5 year-old who was kidnapped from Marina Beach in Chennai in May 2011. This campaign, Search for Thamana, drew immense media attention and was instrumental in tracing the child. This played a key role in increasing surveillance in public areas. For this work, I received the International Diana Award, in memory of the Late Princess of Wales and a Silver Medallion and the 2012 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards. Our story was also shortlisted as one of the top 10 stories in India, as part of Our Better World’s Good Story Pitch, to be pitched to filmmakers in Mumbai. Most recently, CAP was just featured on the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust’s Inspiration Page.
Today, CAP is a predominantly female, youth-led nonprofit, that advocates for children’s rights (from the UNCRC framework) and incorporates them with the relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals. Our main initiative in the Campus Ambassador Program, wherein we recruit students across India to conduct various pre-designed workshops in their own schools. We employ means of advocacy both online and on-the-ground. For about 6 months to a year, we select an issue affecting children and formulate a focused campaign. Our first major campaign tackled the issue of Child Abduction & Trafficking. Our upcoming campaign will explore Bullying. In addition to this, we run independent projects across India, such as the Soft Skills project and collaborate with UN Online Volunteers for research and publications. For more information, please visit our website. As our team is placed globally, we are constantly looking for young people passionate about children’s rights, around the world to join our team. Interested applicants can send us a CV and letter of interest at email@example.com. They can also visit http://thecapro.org/careers to learn more.