'A more diverse healthcare cohort': Program encourages students to pursue medicine

For some, becoming a doctor can seem out of reach.

In Canada, less than seven per cent of medical students come from low socio-economic backgrounds.

This is why Antoine Denis and his classmates at the McGill School of Medicine launched the Academic Immersion in Healthcare (AIH) Project.

"We wanted to make a change, basically. It has actually been shown that a more diverse health care cohort actually improves patient outcomes," said Denis.

The goal of AIH is to make medicine more attainable by showing high schoolers, through a series of videos, exactly what being a health care professional looks like.

"It actually demystifies what health care is. It shows them the health care workers actually working acutely to sort of manage a patient who is sick," Denis explained.

The program then links students like Yassine Abdellatif with resources to help them succeed.

"I know many people, many of them [are] my friends, who want to become a doctor and don't know how," said Abdellatif, who is a CEGEP student. "I think this [...] really helps people to get to their objective."

Quebec is currently facing a serious healthcare worker shortage.

"We need fresh dynamic new faces in institutions like the MUHC and the CHUM and the CHSLDs across the province of Quebec. We need an uptake of people coming in," said Naveed Hussain, a nurse with the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

Hussain says a more diverse healthcare system would mean better care for more people.

"Sometimes you have people coming from different backgrounds and ethnicities and have different religions and different cultural upbringing[s], and when you have people that understand that you can create care plans that can be optimal for these patients."

But according to McGill paediatrics professor Dr. Saleem Razack, before the health network can become more diverse, diverse communities need more exposure and opportunities.

"I think a program like academic immersion health care is exactly the kind of thing that get students saying that they could see themselves doing this," said Dr. Razack.

Antoine Denis says that for now, the project is focused on encouraging future doctors.

But he says the plan is to expand the program to also help aspiring nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Newsletters

Breaking News alerts, info on contests, and special offers from partners