2020 Undergraduate Winner

Kacper Niburski

Kacper Niburski is a third year McGill medical student with a keen interest in social change. He founded the Community Health and Social Medicine (CHASM) Incubator at McGill to help students build projects that address the needs of the most vulnerable in their communities. With mentorship, a curriculum, and funding, CHASM provides sustainable project development for those who need it most in Montreal.

Winning both national and provincial awards, CHASM is one part of Kacper’s larger deeply held principles regarding the social aspects of medicine. To make lasting change, Kacper believes one needs to first carefully, slowly acquire the skills to ensure lasting impact. In clinical practice, this has meant founding Sonoist, an ultrasound initiative that teaches pathological ultrasound; ddxed, a differential diagnosis tool to improve clinical acumen; and McGill’s first narrative medicine workshop, which is focused on developing the softer, more slippery parts of medical empathy and written communication.

Kacper is thankful for the Sandra Banner Student Award for Leadership, which will be funneled back entirely into CHASM, and ultimately, help equalize health disparities in Montreal and beyond.

2020 Postgraduate Winner

Dr. Anees Bahji

Dr. Anees Bahji is a fifth year psychiatry resident at Queen’s University. Before relocating to Kingston for residency, Anees completed an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University and later, medical school at the University of British Columbia. During medical school, he developed an interest in infectious diseases, addictions, and mental health as a result of living and working in Vancouver—particularly the Downtown Eastside community. These early experiences led Anees toward further training in psychiatry as it seemed like the best way to explore his various interests.

Since starting residency, Anees has enjoyed learning about all areas within psychiatry. His main areas of focus are General and Addictions Psychiatry, with a special interest in chronic pain, personality disorders, and trauma—particularly Borderline Personality Disorder. Recently, Anees has been exploring his skills in individual and group psychotherapy.

Over the past few years, Anees has been developing his ability as a teacher by working with the Queen’s University School of Medicine as a clinical skills instructor in both psychiatry as well as more generally. He has also developed a passion for research and for developing online educational materials. This has led to collaborations with the TED-Ed organization to create short, animated videos on a variety of topics.

In July, Anees will be starting a fellowship in Addictions Psychiatry at the University of Calgary, which will supplement his psychiatric training with specific skills and competencies. He is excited to see how the next part of his journey will unfold.

Dear CaRMS,

I would like to start by thanking you. It is an unbelievable honour and privilege to be recognized with the 2020 Sandra Banner Student Award for Leadership.

I have to start by thanking God for bestowing upon me the blessings of this life. To be here on Earth, to enjoy this moment, to be breathing—these are truly beautiful things.

I would like to share this award with the extraordinary resident physicians who I have worked with in the past—and who I hope to work with in the future. The fearless work that they do every second of every day to sustain the life force of Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic is truly immeasurable.

Thirty-five of them, who I have grown deeply fond of, are my colleagues and friends in the Department of Psychiatry at Queen’s University. They are a truly exquisite group, and they inspire me beyond words.

Within this group, I would like to honour my fellow co-chief resident, Dr. Josie Altomare. Her friendship and loyalty means the world to me, while her ‘charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent’ exemplify the type of person I hope to become one day.

I consider myself very lucky to have not one, but two incredible program directors. Through their tutelage, it has become clear to me that meaningful connection to other people is as essential to health as the air we breathe.

I’d like to thank my family for giving me the chance to live this life and to live my truth. I want them to know that everything that I value most in this life are there because of them.

And finally, I’d like to share what leadership means to me. Leadership is ‘truth’, but in a different way. Like a poem, it doesn’t have to be factually true, but you can appreciate it for its beauty, and its truth. The truth is beautiful. Beauty will enter our lives in so many different ways and in so many different places. And even when beauty enters your life cloaked in darkness and despair, the leader within us tells us that there is still beauty there because there is beauty in everything.



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