GGP helps future medical professionals build awareness around newcomer health


medical student community placement

While providing direct services to refugee and immigrants remains our major focus, another essential part of GGP’s work is community engagement. The way we see it, while our programs and services help clients gain important tools and skills, newcomers still struggle to achieve success if they face discrimination and other societal barriers. With this in mind, GGP partners with local organizations to make their services more inclusive to newcomers.

These partnerships can look like working with healthcare providers to prioritize interpretation services in order to communicate with newcomer patients. Or, it can also involve presenting to groups of social workers about cultural competency and high-needs refugees. Another way GGP promotes inclusion in the community is by working with future physicians and pharmacists, social workers, and educators.

GGP regularly hosts students for practicums and service learning, providing valuable training and meaningful interactions with diverse refugee and immigrant clients. For many students, meeting clients and learning about their experiences, challenges, and hopes for the future makes a lasting impact. When the student’s time ends with GGP, they often leave with much greater awareness of the needs and vulnerabilities of this population, as well as the value newcomers bring to the community.

Read on to hear two medical students share about their experiences at GGP.

“This placement highlighted the importance of health care providers building community partnerships by expanding on their knowledge about the community resources available for immigrants and refugees, such as GGP. Their needs are very unique which is why physicians should aim to become community partners as they refer patients to organizations like GGP. 

As a future physician, my aim is to bridge the gap between patients that come into my care and GGP. With this in mind, I will continue to act as an advocate for the unique needs of immigrants and refugees because they are a vulnerable yet valuable group in our community.”

Vivian, medical student at the University of Saskatchewan

“My takeaway from this volunteer experience was that it is interesting to work with this unique population group and the way to truly connect on a one-to-one basis is to attentively listen and be open to their life stories. I learned that newcomers face a lot of challenges as they immigrate to a completely new place and have to integrate in a foreign system to ultimately become self-sufficient citizens. These challenges are exacerbated if they do not find support during this crucial time of transition. This would translate to worse health outcomes in this population group and poor mental health status if they are not provided with the right support systems.

My original objective was to learn about the challenges faced by newcomers to Canada and what social determinants of health contribute to the well-being of this population. I learned that newcomers face a unique set of challenges when arriving into Canada; especially challenges in learning English, finding employment, accessing banking, and accessing healthcare.

This was a very valuable experience for me, as a medical student, and I wish to take my lessons from these encounters to better interact with my future patients in clinical practice. The lessons include: to listen attentively, initiate conversations when appropriate, and understand and empathize with this population in order to understand their experiences and needs.”

-Abhishek, medical student at the University of Saskatchewan

To learn more about GGP’s community placement and/or volunteer opportunities, contact Erika at erika.thogerson@globalgatheringplace.com or 306-665-0268.