My name is Suzanne Shoush, and I am thrilled to be joining ICHA. Originally an electrical engineer from Alberta, I have had a life long interest in working with marginalized and underserved populations. From a young age my parents instilled in me the importance of community awareness and service. My mother, an Aboriginal woman and human rights lawyer, and my father, from Sudan, a professor, author and social commentator, always stressed the importance of education, work ethic, and social responsibility. These lessons stayed with me throughout my experiences as I found myself seeking role models who exemplified those traits.
As a high-school student traveling in Cambodia I was heavily impressed by the work done by biomedical engineers creating low cost prosthetics for victims of land mines. This propelled me into engineering myself, where I worked to help establish the University of Alberta chapter of Engineers without Boarders, an NGO founded under the same ideology as Médecins Sans Frontières. My commitment to underserved populations continued during my work in Medical Physics at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver and the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston TX, where my research was focused on low-cost, real-time diagnostics for cervical cancer; the goal to reduce loses to follow-up in high-risk, underserved populations. I took this also as an opportunity to advocate for the inclusion of marginalized groups, mainly Aboriginal women and street workers, to be included in both testing and education for disease prevention.
It was these experiences working in the realm of Health Advocacy that I was inspired to pursue Medicine as the next step in my education. Before my clinical years of medical school began, I took a year off to complete a research internship in sustainable community development with the United Nations in Paris, France. This opportunity was invaluable to me, as it was a further introduction into the realities of social disparities, and further strengthened my passion to work towards alleviating those disparities.
In both medical school and during my Family Medicine Residency at St. Michael’s Hospital, as well as in the three years since graduating, I have had incredible opportunities to work in Inner City Medicine (both in Canada and internationally) and loved it. I love working in Primary Care because it gives me both a connection to people and communities as well as a true sense of working with meaning. It also gives me flexibility, autonomy, freedom and ability to travel and work in marginalized communities and work to effect change, starting at the level of the individual. I also love the communication and intimacy, as I love to spend time with people, listen to their stories and understand their life situation. I was very lucky to have had my residency training at St. Michael’s Hospital where fantastic role models were abundant! I am very much looking forward to joining the amazing staff at ICHA. Thank you!