Dr. Amanda (Amy) Khan and David Zheng were recognized today for their outstanding leadership skills, as the 2021 recipients of the Sandra Banner Student Award for Leadership (SBSAL). 

The Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) Board of Directors launched the SBSAL in 2013 with the aim of encouraging the development of future leaders in medicine. The annual award recognizes the exceptional leadership of one undergraduate medical student and one postgraduate medical trainee. Each of this year’s winners will receive up to $3,000 in leadership development funding. 

David Zheng is a third-year medical student at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. Prior to this, David completed a BSc in Biomedical Sciences at uOttawa. As a regular volunteer at long-term care homes, David recognized the disproportionate socially isolating effect pandemic lockdown restrictions would have on the elderly and founded Creative Connection, a federal non-profit aimed at combatting social isolation and its associated morbidity and mortality for older adults of healthcare institutions across Canada, and increasing accessibility of this social interaction through providing video call live musical performances, paint nights, and health education in one-on-one or small group formats. Since its inception, Creative Connection has connected with more than 1,000 patients among more than 20 institutions.  

“I wish to acknowledge that this award is not for individual accomplishment alone, but a testament to the combined efforts of many likeminded volunteers—including my fellow medical student peers Alexandra Hillyer, and Heidi Li who have helped co-found this initiative,” said Mr. Zheng. “I hope to encourage other students to recognize and seek out areas of health inequality in their local communities and leverage their own experiences and privilege to continue to make lasting change.” 

Dr. Amanda (Amy) Khan is a first-year radiation oncology resident at the University of Calgary. Before relocating to Alberta for residency, Amy completed her MD/PhD degree at the University of Toronto, concurrently earning both her MD medical degree and PhD in biomedical/surgical engineering as part of the dual degree clinician scientist program. She previously completed both her undergraduate degree and Master’s degree in Medical Biophysics at the University of Western Ontario in London, ON. Amy is a strong advocate for social accountability and equity and founded the Research Application Support Initiative (RASI) at the University of Toronto (UofT) to help students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or those who self-identify as a minority to gain admission to graduate school in STEM fields or medical school via research opportunities and mentorship.   

“I am passionate about advocating for social justice and equity in the field of healthcare because studies show that current Canadian medical students do not reflect the socioeconomic or racial backgrounds of Canadians as a whole,” said Dr. Khan. “Through the work of the Community of Support (COS) and the Black Student Application Program, UofT welcomed a class of 24 Black students last year, the largest cohort in all of Canada. I hope to emulate this success at the University of Calgary and in the province of Alberta by bringing the COS to this province and I am excited to see the effect we have on helping Canada’s healthcare workforce to accurately reflect our richly diverse population as a whole.” 

CaRMS Board of Directors Awards Committee Chair Dr. Jay Rosenfield congratulated the winners. “On behalf of the CaRMS Board of Directors and the Awards Committee, I would like to congratulate Amanda Khan and David Zheng,” said Dr. Rosenfield. “These two truly outstanding medical learners have demonstrated a deep understanding of the broader issues of health care, caring for and commitment to patients and families, advocating for social justice and socioeconomic diversity, and combatting social isolation, and a level of leadership which is sure to strengthen and enrich the Canadian health care system in years to come.” 

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