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Becoming a leader in global health

- July 2, 2014

Amanda Carey (centre) with Shawna O'Hearn (Global Health Office) and Megan Aston (School of Nursing). (Global Health Office photo)
Amanda Carey (centre) with Shawna O'Hearn (Global Health Office) and Megan Aston (School of Nursing). (Global Health Office photo)

Moncton, NB native Amanda Carey always knew she wanted to pursue a career in health.  

Growing up, she had heard stories of her grandfather who was originally from Lebanon, but lived in Windsor, Ont. and would provide people with help as a doctor during the great depression and before Medicare was established in Canada.

“He would help people deliver babies for free and then at harvest time there would be piles of vegetables at his door,” says Amanda. “He was well known in the community for caring about people and doing what he could to help others and people showed him a lot of gratitude.”

Amanda, who graduated from Dal last month, was this year’s recipient of the 2014 Dr. Ron Stewart Award for Student Leadership in Global Health, given to a student who has demonstrated leadership in global health and a commitment to improving the health of marginalized communities.

“I am so glad I came to Dalhousie,” she says. “I feel I have been incredibly lucky and have had incredible opportunities. I think there are way more opportunities here in global health than anywhere in the country.”

Becoming involved

Amanda became involved with initiatives carried out by the Global Health Office, including volunteering and participating in the global health research forum called Building Communities Through Global Health Connections, participating in the global health journal clubs, Café Scientifiques (where health professionals come in to give presentations on research initiatives that have been implemented global health wise) and in the Advocates in Global Health program.  

She also had the opportunity to travel overseas to The Gambia and Tanzania to witness how health care is practiced there and worked with Direction 180, a community-based methadone clinic on Halifax’s Gottingen Street that focuses on harm reduction techniques. She has been involved in global health research with nursing professors Dr. Megan Aston at the IWK Health Centre and with Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy at the WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centre on Health Workforce Planning & Research, for which she won the 2012 CIHR Health Professional Student Research Award.

Appreciation for the Dal experience

“The Global Health Office’s programs have really helped me learn a lot about myself and helped me express my passions,” says Amanda. “The support of the staff and faculty has allowed me not only to work in areas that I am passionate about, but work on it firsthand locally and abroad.”

“I feel that the opportunities at Dalhousie really prepared me,” she continues. “For example, working in east and west Africa there aren’t a lot of health resources, so people need to be very innovative. There also isn’t the predictability of systems, so you have to think on your feet and work with what you have. That has helped me become a better nurse.”

Through travel she also learned a lot about cross-cultural communications that really helped her hone her compassion for others and understand people who may come from different backgrounds and have different abilities. “Now, for example, if people come in to the hospital in Halifax and English isn’t their first language, I am used to taking the time to try and understand them and their specific needs.”

Now with her studying behind her, the graduate plans to work in cardiac surgery at the Halifax Infirmary and continue with the research she was involved in with Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, a professor of nursing at Dalhousie.

Amanda also hopes to study for a master’s degree one day, but is excited to finally be able to pursue the career she dreamt about when she heard stories of her grandfather. “I am leaving Dalhousie having taken advantage of every opportunity it has had to offer. The staff and faculty here really saw me as a professional and really took the time to teach me take me under their wings.”


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