This article is part of a series focusing on the grads of the Dalhousie Class of 2023. Spring Convocation runs from May 29 to June 7 in Halifax and Truro. Read all our profiles here as they are published, and for more information visit the Convocation website.
When Maisoon Yousif began medical school at Dalhousie, she was looking for a way to make a positive change for her Black medical student peers and those who would follow in her footsteps.
Born in Sudan, but raised in Ontario, Maisoon is one of two students who founded the Black Medical Students’ Association (BMSA) at Dalhousie. From a modest five trainees four years ago, the BMSA has grown to more than 30 members and was recently awarded the President’s Award for the Advancement of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA) recognizing their work to promote an inclusive campus community and their understanding of EDIA. The group, founded along with Adrianna Broussard and Ola Sobodu, was born from a goal to create a space for Black students to build community and a group to advocate on Black medical students’ interests within the institution.
“Coming into medical school, Adrianna and I were excited to make positive change for present and future Black medical students,” recalls Maisoon. “It’s been a beautiful space for peers to connect and authentic exchange of knowledge and support to occur.”
BMSA members now sit on various committees, representing the Black medical student voice.
The power of mentorship
In addition to co-founding and serving as an executive member of the BMSA, Maisoon was also co-chair of the Muslim Medical Students’ Association and sat on the Student Diversity and Inclusion Committee. And while these positions provided her with the opportunity to advocate for her peers, she believes she has had the most impact as a mentor to students from minoritized backgrounds that are underrepresented in the medical student and physician populations.
“Each year of medical school, I had at least five mentees who I helped with some part of the medical school admission process,” says Maisoon. “I shared my experience with them, helped plan and prepare their applications, practiced for interviews, and provided a safe place for them to share their highs and lows and learn from others’ experiences.”
Her role as a mentor is not Maisoon’s only foray into medical school admissions assistance. She co-founded Price of Dream (PoD), a group of medical students, residents, and staff across Canada and the United States who are passionate about eliminating the financial barriers to medical school admissions. Today, medical students are facing upwards of $150,000 in debt upon completion of their medical education. PoD received funding from the Council of Ontario Faculties of Medicine (COFM) to advise and support the implementation of a national strategy, which included the new fee waiver. In the two years since it was implemented, the Ontario Medical School Application Fee Waiver has saved applicants to Ontario medical schools approximately $100,000 annually.
“My idea of a legacy is creating positive change that will benefit others far beyond my involvement,” says Maisoon. “The Ontario Medical School Application Fee Waiver is the perfect example of that.”
Maisoon will begin her Obstetrics and Gynaecology residency at Western University this summer, having previously completed both her undergraduate and master’s degrees at the university. She has had a longstanding interest in reproductive health from both a surgical and advocacy perspective.
“Reproductive health has long been used as a tool of oppression,” says Maisoon. “Turning that around to empower my patients is part of what attracts me to the field. And I’ve always loved working with my hands and learning new skills.”
Unsure where her career will take her after training, Maisoon is keeping an open mind. Motivated to be both a strong surgeon and passionate advocate, she is poised to make a difference for both her patients and the communities she serves.
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