Childhood dreams may not always come true, but when they do, they mean something extra special. Abe Chidiac is one of the lucky ones who is making his childhood dream come true as he studies in the MD Program at Dalhousie University. Abe is one of five students selected for Cape Breton University and Dalhousie University’s Medical Education Pilot Initiative aimed at innovative and creative solutions to alleviate physician shortages in rural Nova Scotia.
Growing up in Shelburne, a rural town on the southern shore of Nova Scotia, Abe was able to experience firsthand how a lack of healthcare and education impacts communities in Canada. Abe’s parents immigrated to Canada from Lebanon, giving Abe the chance to experience the healthcare landscape in Lebanon during trips to visit family. Both of these experiences motivated him to pursue a career in the medical field with the goal of helping people at their most vulnerable.
After working as a recreational therapist and volunteering at the IWK, getting accepted into the Medical Education Pilot Iniative was an exciting step for Abe. “It took me months to fathom that I had actually been accepted into the program,” he says. “I am very grateful for the opportunity to pursue my dreams.”
Before enrolling in the medical program, Abe graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science with honours in Medical Sciences from Dalhousie University. His honours thesis focused on self-help internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy (CBTi) for insomnia. Throughout highschool and university, Abe also volunteered and worked diligently to help communities in need. He travelled to places like Nicaragua and Ecuador where he helped to build schools, allowing him to gain further insight on the importance of healthcare education. He says he is grateful for every life experience that led him to the path of becoming an MD.
Thinking of his own experience growing up in rural Nova Scotia, Abe explains that at times, people would have to travel over two hours to get the healthcare they need. “There are so many people in our town without a family doctor, which is a gateway to a solid healthcare system,” explains Abe. “Improving access to healthcare in a province like Nova Scotia, which has many rural communities, is of utmost importance. It is unjust that those living further away from a city are struggling to get the care they need.”
Abe says the MD program has already equipped him with countless skills he will utilize throughout his career as a doctor. “The opportunity to connect with physicians has provided me with important knowledge, in particular, the Skilled Clinician course,” he shares. “This course has shown me how to interact with patients, perform physical exams and the integration of important factors such as socioeconomic status in medical history to ensure the best care for everyone.”
Throughout Abe’s journey, his family has served as a major support system. “Watching their reactions when I was accepted into medical school felt surreal, as they had experienced every emotion I did while going through the application cycle,” says Abe. “I would not be here without all of their support.”
Abe considers himself very fortunate to be able to pursue his life long goals of becoming a doctor and helping the most vulnerable. To learn more about the Cape Breton University and Dalhousie University’s Medical Education Pilot Initiative, please click here.