Congratulations to Milani Sivapragasam on achieving Highly Commended in the 2019 Zeshan Qureshi Award for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education.
Milani believed that medical students are not passive recipients of a curriculum but should be valuable partners in its creation. Through various initiatives, she consistently challenged the status quo to make this vision become a reality in her medical school at McGill University and beyond.
She first co-founded a McGill Medical Education Committee (EdCom) which organized and legitimized student representation within the faculty. Through EdCom, she led a 2 year long comprehensive review of the McGill pre-clerkship curriculum yielding a report that has significantly increased faculty accountability for learner needs.
“When I became a student rep, I saw a culture of tokenism. Students sat on all these faculty committees, but our voices were not truly heard, and students were afraid to speak up, myself included. Creating EdCom allowed us to learn from and support each other to achieve real changes.”
With a personal interest in cancer, Milani co-founded a McGill Oncology Interest Group to supplement a gap in exposure in UME. Here, she became involved in a pan-North American med ed research project which ultimately demonstrated tumor board shadowing to be an effective learning activity to teach multidisciplinary cancer care to first and second year medical students.
“Leadership, to me, is intimately tied to lasting community impact. First, I am drawn to issues that are complex and require creative problem-solving and long-term vision—medical education proved to be fertile ground for such work. Second, my greatest fulfillment in such work has come from the opportunity to make a difference for others—I feel grateful to have played a meaningful role in shaping the education of my peers at McGill and nationally.”
Milani recently graduated from McGill medical school and will begin her residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of Ottawa where she hopes to develop her skills as a clinical teacher.