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NOSM medical student honoured with national award

Posted on August 25, 2021

Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) medical student Danica Desjardins receives the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF) Award for 2021. The award recognizes second-year medical students who exemplify perseverance, collaboration and an entrepreneurial spirit. Recipients have an established track record of community leadership, superior communication skills and demonstrated interest in advancing knowledge.

“I am so honoured and humbled to receive this award,” says Desjardins. “To be recognized as someone with potential to be a future leader and innovator in health care in Canada—especially by members of NOSM faculty whom I really look up to—is so meaningful to me. Reading about the accomplishments, ideas and the passions held by the other medical students who have received this award is nothing short of inspiring, and I’m honoured to be included among them.”

“Danica Desjardins is an inspiring medical student with a commitment to diversity and inclusion in health care and medicine,” says Dr. Sarita Verma, NOSM Dean, President and CEO. “As a future physician, Danica will make an impact through her advocacy work wherever she chooses to practise.”

Desjardins is a Francophone medical student who completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa, followed by a master’s degree in public health at Queen’s University where she focused on public health programming in Arviat, Nunavut. She then worked at the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. This furthered her interest in sexual and reproductive health care and Desjardins says it allowed her to meet incredible physicians, nurses, midwives, and researchers who ultimately inspired her to pursue a career in medicine.

Having recently begun her third-year Comprehensive Community Clerkship (CCC) in Hearst, Ontario, Desjardins says she enjoys studying medicine because it allows her to connect with people from all walks of life and provides her new perspectives on the intersections of health, society, and public policy.

“At NOSM, we talk a lot about social accountability and using our roles as future physicians to meet the needs of the communities we are serving,” says Desjardins. “I don’t really think it’s possible to do that without advocating for our patients. I’m really passionate about diversity and inclusion in health care, especially as it relates to the 2SLGBTQ+ community. As a doctor, I’ll be able to use the position of privilege to advocate on behalf of my patients and partner with them to advocate for themselves.”

Recipients of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Award receive a cash prize of $5,000 and a travel subsidy to attend the 2022 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Ottawa, where they will have the opportunity to meet CMHF Laureates and interact with health leaders from across the country.

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The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) is an award-winning socially accountable medical school renowned for its innovative model of distributed, community-engaged education and research. With a focus on diversity, inclusion, and advocacy for health equity, NOSM relies on the commitment and expertise of the peoples and communities of Northern Ontario to educate health-care professionals to practise in Indigenous, Francophone, rural, remote and underserved communities. NOSM’s graduates, faculty, learners and staff are changemakers who lead health-system transformation in Northern Ontario. The School is a recipient of the Charles Boelen International Social Accountability Award from the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada and the prestigious ASPIRE award, which recognize international excellence in social accountability and medical education.

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