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Enhancing cultural competence

June 27, 2011

Enhancing cultural competence
Lydia Cheung joins Dr. Ru Wong, Senior Neonatalogist, for morning rounds at Maternal and Child Health Hospital in China.

Lydia Cheung is the first senior medical student at Western to complete an overseas elective in Huai’an, China. As the most recent recipient of the $1,750 award in honour of Dr. Rob Tingley, Lydia’s journey has been invaluable for Western’s newly developed long-term bilateral partnership with hospitals in Huai’an. For Lydia, the purpose of her journey was two-fold: for her own clinical education and cross-cultural exchange with the Chinese health care system and traditional Chinese medicine; and second, to open doors for future senior elective students.

“This generous award has helped me alleviate the financial burden of funding an overseas elective,” says Lydia who was born in Hong Kong but has lived in the Toronto area since she was three years old. “The cumulative costs involved to travel, particularly to developing countries, are a considerable barrier to pursuing learning opportunities that are invaluable in enhancing our cultural competence and worldview.”

The Dr. Rob Tingley’s Class of ’95 Developing Countries Award is presented to a student in Year 4 of the Doctor of Medicine (MD) program to assist with travel or program expenses directly related to an overseas experience through the Medical Elective Overseas Program. The recipient commits to a six to eight week experience and is selected by a committee. Friends and family of Dr. Rob Tingley of the Medical Class of 1995 established this award to honor the life-altering experience Dr. Tingley had in Kijabe, Kenya by enabling future students to have similar experiences.

Lydia is thankful for Western’s Global Health Department’s interest and commitment to support overseas initiatives.

“For students like me who choose to go on overseas electives, it comforts us to know that the school is committed to helping shape our international electives into more sustainable partnerships that can enrich education for Western students and our hospitable hosts overseas.”

After finishing her undergraduate degree at McMaster, she moved to London to obtain her medical degree from Western. Upon graduation last May, Lydia completed her residency training in Family Medicine at the University of Toronto’s Markham-Stouffville site. With a unique emphasis on global health, Lydia participates in monthly global health rounds and works closely with the growing immigrant population in Markham. She is also preparing for an international elective while taking courses to complete a certificate of global health.

Lydia notes that donor support has played an integral role in her journey to learning more about global and international health.

“I am encouraged by the conviction of Dr. Rob Tingley that overseas electives provide an added and invaluable niche of learning during our medical training.


This article appeared in the 2011 edition of Student Awards Recipient Report
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