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Inspired by medical students

Drs. Vipin and Bhooma Bhayana have established an award to inspire the medical students who have inspired them

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Drs. Vipin and Bhooma Bhayana established an award to inspire the medical students who have inspired them.

In her extensive work with refugees and other vulnerable communities in London, family physician Dr. Bhooma Bhayana, MD’85, regularly witnesses the inequities of Canada’s health-care system.

On top of finding the system difficult to navigate, marginalized people — including the homeless, those struggling financially and people living with mental illness and addiction — often experience stigma, racism and a lack of understanding of the circumstances in which they live.

Today’s medical students are “very aware of inequity and social justice,” Bhayana said. “In my work in refugee health, I’ve met many students who are really inspiring.”

Bhayana works alongside students who volunteer with Western’s Newcomer Health Program, a student club through which medical students assess the health of newly arrived refugees. Bhayana recalled one student who scheduled other volunteers, delivered workshops and went on to become a leader in refugee health in London after obtaining her degree.

“When you watch a student flower like that, you want to water that flower,” said Bhayana.

For Bhayana and her husband, Vipin Bhayana, a faculty member with the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, that water comes in the form of a student award they recently established.

Each year the Drs. Vipin and Bhooma Bhayana Award in Family Medicine will provide $1,000 in funding to a fourth-year medical student working with marginalized communities. The couple hopes the award will reinforce that addressing health inequities is a “credible area of study and one worthy of attention.” Their goal is to inspire students as much as students have inspired them, and to nurture their desire to work with marginalized populations.

The Bhayana’s gift exemplifies how students, donors and Western come together to make our communities better. The Drs. Vipin and Bhooma Bhayana Award in Family Medicine will be presented for the first time in 2021-2022.

If you would like to support a student award in medicine, contact Heather Thomas at 519-661-2111 x24290 or heather.thomas@schulich.uwo.ca.