Oct. 7, 2022

Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka ready to lead SMA's EDI initiatives in new role as Physician Advocate

Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, who has extensive experience working with Indigenous people and other equity-deserving groups, saw the graphic images of George Floyd’s death in the United States, and a spark was ignited.

The May 2020 murder of Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer became a worldwide catalyst for change. Dr. Ndubuka watched from his home in Prince Albert.

“That event sparked my personal interest around equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), and specifically as it relates to the health care system. That event really brought a lot of EDI issues to the fore,” said Dr. Ndubuka, who has begun his part-time role as Physician Advocate, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA).

Dr. Ndubuka was president-elect of the Canadian Association of Nigerian Physicians and Dentists (CANPAD) when Floyd was killed. He got involved in EDI issues for the association when members began expressing concerns about ongoing challenges in their workplaces. This work continued when he assumed a two-year term as president of CANPAD in August 2021.

Meanwhile. Dr. Ndubuka noted the SMA was in the forefront among medical associations in supporting EDI work among its members in Saskatchewan. He joined the SMA Board of Directors and became a volunteer member of the board’s EDI Committee. His own commitment to EDI took another step when he expressed interest for the Physician Advocate position with the SMA.

‘Hopefully collectively, we can make a difference’

“I thought it was a great opportunity for me, recognizing that the SMA has shown through its leadership its commitment to address EDI matters among the membership,” he said. “I saw it as an opportunity to leverage existing partnerships and networks within and outside the province, to move the dial on EDI matters.

“Being in a formal position, you will be the face of the SMA when it comes to EDI. That gives you better access not just to resources but also the connections and relationships needed to create a system that is free of implicit bias, discrimination, or racism, because we cannot deny the fact that these issues exist within our system.

“I saw this as an opportunity to tailor more effort toward EDI and to work closely with the senior leadership team at the SMA, the board, and the EDI Committee. Hopefully collectively, we can make a difference.”

‘It’s going to be a process’

Dr. Ndubuka’s position is new, part-time, and will evolve over time. With support from SMA board and EDI Committee, he hopes to build a repository of online resources for SMA members and develop a process whereby physicians, resident and students can contact him confidentially with concerns or complaints.

“We have one common agenda which is to change the health care system, to make the system more user friendly both from a patient and provider perspective,” he added. “We want to have a health care system that will continue to provide high-quality care without any form of discrimination or racism.”

Dr. Ndubuka hopes to create an awareness and an understanding of how racism and discrimination affects the health of physicians, residents and students, ranging from stress and anxiety in their day-to-day work to depression and suicidal ideation.

“One thing that I know is that eliminating racism and discrimination within our health care system is not an event. It’s going to be a process. It’s going to be a journey, but we all need to commit to the journey. We were not looking for ‘quick-fix’ solutions, but rather we hope to work with physician members to thoroughly explore the challenges and foster short and long-term solutions. 

“As we continue to listen to members and we continue to reflect on the work that we’re doing, we also hope that members will reflect on their own what EDI really means and how they can contribute to make our health system a healthy place for everyone.”

Please contact communications@sma.sk.ca if you have any questions or comments.

The Saskatchewan Medical Association appreciates funding from Scotiabank, MD Financial and the Canadian Medical Association as part of their Physician Wellness+ Initiative to address the urgent, ongoing health and wellness needs of our medical community. This article was made possible by the Physician Wellness+ Initiative.

Being in a formal position, you will be the face of the SMA when it comes to EDI. That gives you better access not just to resources but also the connections and relationships needed to create a system that is free of implicit bias, discrimination, or racism, because we cannot deny the fact that these issues exist within our system.

Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, Physician Advocate, EDI

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