Outstanding Future UBC Alumnus trains with the SMP

UBC medical student Alia Dharamsi (Photo: Keith Leinweber)

Third year med student Alia Dharamsi is the recent recipient of the UBC Outstanding Future Alumnus Award for her work in the community and helping to provide a platform for youth to discuss global health issues.

She is also one of sixteen students from the distributed MD Undergraduate Program who volunteered to come to Kelowna and Kamloops to complete their third year clinical rotations with the Southern Medical Program (SMP). Students from the SMP’s inaugural class will begin clinical rotations at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) and Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) later this year.

Dharamsi, a Vancouver native, jumped at the chance to move to the Interior and train in a smaller community. “I always knew I wanted to live in a smaller community,” said Dharamsi. “I like the idea of being able know your neighbours and work in a community-based hospital.”

So far, Dharamsi has completed surgery and internal medicine rotations at KGH and a pediatric rotation at RIH. “The RIH pediatrics rotation gave me an opportunity to see a community-based approach to pediatric medical care and experience working in a different hospital, smaller community” said Dharamsi. “The surgery and internal medicine rotations at KGH were equally impressive. I’ve had a phenomenal experience seeing how my preceptors are able to enjoy a great work-life balance—the groups had incredibly positive cultures and are very welcoming to learners. I am humbled by how open and encouraging the patients are – they are great teachers for us and make the experience even more enriching. These experiences have made surgery and internal medicine viable options for my future residency.”

As for the type of residency she plans to pursue, the door remains wide open. “I am so blissfully uncommitted to anything and really relishing the opportunity to see everything,” said Dharamsi. “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be a learner in a community as opposed to an institution. To be able to really push yourself, be responsible for patients as a productive part of a team is how we as students grow the most.”

Dharamsi is currently continuing her involvement with the community through her mosque, providing mentorship and support to younger university students. She also has plans to connect with local high schools students to encourage their participation in the advancement of global health.