Dr Victor Uwaifo calculated Drs. Anderson Abbott and Charles Drew among his personal heroes in health care.
like Dr. Abbott, the first Canadian-born black person to graduate from medical school, and Dr. Drew, who founded a blood bank during the Second World War, Dr. Uwaifo can also inspire the work of the next generation in medicine.
The Interim Chief of Psychiatry for Niagara Health was among the two percent of doctors in Canada who identified as black in 2016 Census data compiled by Statistics Canada. That number drops further when looking at healthcare leadership.
As a result, Dr.’s career ambitions. Uwaifo is as positive an influence as a great doctor, with the hope of changing the representation gap that currently exists in healthcare.
“Someone like me is lucky enough to be a doctor, but to hold a leadership position – I hope to be a role model for young people to pursue a career in medicine, embrace it as it can be beneficial and help with health problems. existing inequalities,” said Dr. Uwaifo.
“Having a diverse workforce is an advantage,” he added. “You can see things from a different perspective, it makes people more creative, and having a diverse workforce helps the population we serve.”
Helping people is part of what attracts Dr. Uwaifo for a career in healthcare while growing up in Nigeria. He was also passionate about science as a child. As a teenager, he considered a career in medical laboratory science and as a pharmacist, and determined to channel his love of science into studying to become a doctor.
Shaping the future of healthcare
Dr. Uwaifo values the holistic nature of healthcare, which requires empathy, and the ability to listen to and understand the psychosocial needs of patients, not just administer medication. He focused on psychiatry because he was fascinated by the brain, especially how little was known about it, and how many opportunities there were for him to add to his knowledge.
“I’m someone who naturally loves taking care of people,” he said. “I am also a strong advocate for people to take responsibility for their own health. It is an honor for me to see people go through their hardest times on the healthcare journey to wellness.
He called it an honor to help shape the future of young people who could one day also advance healthcare. Dr. Uwaifo did so as an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience in the School of Health Sciences at McMaster University. He also takes the opportunity to speak to young people at his church and elsewhere in his community about the impact they can make personally and professionally.
“It’s important for people to know that despite the odds, as long as you dream and work hard, anything is possible.”
Dr. Uwaifo said celebrating the impact and achievements of pioneers like Drs. Abbott and Drew are critical any time of the day, especially during Black History Month.
“For me, I see Black History Month as a celebration of Black excellence and achievement. Black history tells a story of perseverance,” he said. “You look at the contributions of black people to modern society and they signify resilience, beauty, talent, music, dance and storytelling.
“I also recognize the legacy of the heroes who sacrificed, but also the stories of countless heroes that are not in any history book. I am proud to be a part of this history. I am proud that there are men and women who look like me, who left indelible footprints in the sands of time.”
Black History Month is also an opportunity to look into the present – and the future – by sharing the contributions of black people today, whether it’s someone showing kindness to those around them or empowering others to make their mark on a larger scale. big.
Either way, it’s about creating something future generations can be proud of, he says.
And it’s something in which everyone plays a role.
“I am fortunate to work in a supportive environment and have great colleagues,” said Dr. Uwaifo. “As a Person of Color, I myself have experienced bias, but we must remember that the responsibility to overcome bias lies with the person who has it. The onus is not on black people to manage people’s biases and expectations.”
As part of our commitment to building safe, diverse, and inclusive environments, our team at Niagara Health dedicated this month to learning more about the transformative work and achievements of black individuals and how they continue to shape history. Study again.