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#IamMGH Black Voices - Meet Dr. Pauline Henry
#IamMGH tells the stories of our people. In honour of Black History Month, we’re centring the voices and lived experiences of our Black staff and physicians throughout February. Meet Dr. Pauline Henry, Department of Laboratory Medicine chief and program medical director at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH).
“As a visible minority woman, I feel fortunate to have been able to achieve many of my academic and career goals. I attribute much of this success to the influence of my parents who have always been inspirational role models as they overcame the challenges of being immigrants from the Caribbean. They provided the emotional, mental and socioeconomic stability that was so critical for allowing me to pursue ambitious opportunities.
There remain constant reminders, however, of how the Black community continues to face obstacles in society created by systemic patterns of racial inequality and discriminatory practices involving institutions such as healthcare, education and the justice system. Recent events, including what happened locally on our redevelopment site, have stimulated an acute social awakening to the long-standing realities of anti-Black racism. I joined the Inclusion Alliance in order to help translate MGH’s recognition of institutional racism into action.
My experience with community outreach also contributed to my interest in joining the Inclusion Alliance. When I was studying medicine at the University of Toronto, I was one of only three Black students in a class of 120. During that time, I was part of the group that formed the Black Medical Student Association (BMSA) which endeavoured to address the underrepresentation of Blacks in medicine by offering supports for Black undergraduate students pursuing careers in health care.
When I attended the 20th-anniversary celebration of the BMSA last year, I saw a room full of young, energetic and bright medical students who were passionate about advocating for Blacks in the health care field. Due to the efforts of many progressive U of T programs along with the BMSA, the Faculty of Medicine class of 2024 has 24 Black students, the most ever — this is a remarkable and inspiring achievement that demonstrates a step in the right direction facilitated by many dedicated people.
Being a Black physician at MGH during this critical time of action, I want to be involved in our institution’s commitment to inclusion, equity and advocacy work. I want to assist initiatives that aim to not only dismantle anti-Black racism but also help foster a community in which Black and minority youth confidently become the healthcare professionals of our future. Having greater diversity and representation, particularly in leadership roles, will only better the care we’re able to provide. I look forward to realizing the potential of what the Inclusion Alliance can accomplish.”