The CFMS–MD Financial Management Leadership Awards recognize passionate, dedicated and caring medical student leaders throughout Canada who have made innovative contributions to their schools and communities
As far back as she can remember, Stephanie Gill always had the same answer when someone asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up: a doctor. Today, as a third-year student at the University of Calgary, she’s true to her word. “I know it sounds cliché,” she says, “but it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.” After completing a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and doing a master’s thesis on the impacts of fitness on cognition in adults, she entered the MD program with an interest in chronic illness and working with marginalized populations.
One of the things that fascinated her about chronic disease is how it touches on so many factors of a person’s life—from their social and economic status, to their level of education, housing situation, family environment, place in the community, etc. “Chronic illness was a common thread throughout my education and employment prior to medical school,” Stephanie says. “And the more I’ve been exposed to it, and the more I’ve learned about it, the more I’ve been drawn to working with those who are struggling with it—it’s an area where I really feel like I can make an impact.”
Her leadership skills were honed through her involvement in SHINE – Students for Health Innovation and Education– a student group that enables medical students to collaborate with community-based organizations to plan, implement, and evaluate projects that are focused on helping marginalized populations in the city of Calgary. “It’s an important experience for medical students,” Stephanie says. “We have been given an amazing gift, and often find ourselves in a unique position to help…SHINE encourages you to recognize how fortunate you are, and helps you pass on that good fortune to those who need it most.”
During her Master’s, Stephanie worked with the SHINE team – most of whom were already medical students – on the development of a physical activity and nutrition curriculum for the underprivileged. Then, when she entered medical school, she became co-president of the group. In this leadership position, she organized meetings, checked in regularly with individual students to monitor the status of their projects, provided them with guidance, and acted as a liaison between UME (Undergraduate Medical Education) and SHINE, which helped foster sustainable relationships between preceptors and the group.
One of the highlights of her term as the leader of SHINE was to organize a symposium which brought together medical students and other healthcare workers – from nurses, to physiotherapists, to practicing doctors – to learn from one another. The first event, called Addiction Through the Ages, was attended by more than 150 people, and centered around a discussion of the similarities and differences between addicts and their addictions, and how they present themselves to healthcare professionals. This symposium was so successful that it has become an annual event. “A lot of these topics are covered in medical school, but we wanted to learn about them from a new perspective, and bring extra awareness to the surface.”
Stephanie’s leadership role with SHINE has turned out to be very rewarding in the long-term. “I feel fortunate that I’m able to help others achieve their goals, and often find myself learning just as much from them as they learn from me. I believe that balancing leadership responsibilities with the demands of medical school has prepared me to be an effective advocate for my patients—and for the causes I believe in.”
Stephanie Gill is a third-year medical student at the University of Calgary. She has completed a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a master’s thesis on the impacts of fitness on cognition in adults. Stephanie enjoys trying new recipes and working out, especially with friends. When she is not working, Stephanie is travelling around the world, taking photographs to capture the memories.
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