Indigenous graduate says inclusiveness and advocacy a strengthPosted on June 2, 2021
Dr. Meghan Beals says NOSM sparked her desire to explore her own Indigeneity. “I definitely overcame a lot of personal learning about my own culture during my four years at NOSM. I grew up off reserve and I didn’t have as much cultural exposure so there was a lot of personal growth and learning about my own Miꞌkmaq culture and the different inequities that Indigenous persons face in health care,” she says.
Meghan says her fondest memories stem from the in-person clinical community placements she experienced during her third year, prior to the pandemic. During those placements she built strong relationships with faculty and fellow classmates—bonds she plans to hold onto. “Our preceptors at NOSM really stand out. The physicians in those smaller communities across Northern Ontario are so receptive to students and so dedicated to teaching students that you honestly feel like a colleague, you don’t feel like a student,” Meghan says. “I think that it is very special and awesome that NOSM has so many dedicated faculty.”
Meghan will begin her residency in Family Medicine in Moncton, New Brunswick—much closer to her home on the East Coast where she worked as a paramedic and then as a respiratory therapist prior to medical school. She says NOSM felt like the right fit to pursue rural medicine. “I wanted to have more autonomy as a health professional and I was particularly drawn to the NOSM MD program because of its social accountability mandate to the rural communities. And being Indigenous, I knew that cultural inclusion and equity is at the forefront of the School’s curriculum, which is very valuable.”
A source of ongoing inspiration is the strong sense of advocacy Meghan felt at NOSM, which she aspires to bring to her career. “Being Indigenous, I want to take on an advocacy role that influences personal health from within communities that are close to me. Creating healthy communities will definitely be a part of my advocacy work in the future as a family physician. Being part of a community and demonstrating how committed you are to a healthy lifestyle, that in and of itself is strong advocacy—by being there for everyone.”