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Vernissage Health Alumni Champions Diversity Mentorship Program

Dr. Stephanie Zhou, an emerging leader in the 2020 IHPME alumni cohort of Vernissage Health, currently works as an Addictions physician at Sunnybrook Hospital. She completed her MD and MSc in Systems Leadership and Innovation jointly through the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation in 2018.

Stephanie has particular interest in making medicine more inclusive for diverse groups, by addressing barriers to accessing social and economic capital. This motivated her leadership in the Diversity Mentorship Program (DMP) within the Faculty of Medicine. Her recent article about this program can be found at . To find out more about Stephanie's career go to:

Stephanie Zhou, Addictions Physician and Alumni, System Leadership and Innovation (2018)

The DMP is the first diversity-focused mentorship program in a Canadian medical school. Stephanie reflects on her own experience as a medical student, “For myself, I fell into the categories of Low-Income and FIF but there were no student groups or formalized networking programs for students like me. This created an inequity for students without social capital because obtaining research positions and matching to competitive specialties was largely based on "fit." When you come from a socioeconomic class that doesn't allow you to have the same interests or lifestyles as wealthier classmates, this makes it harder to fit in and have a dialogue with colleagues. This inequity is further perpetuated by the stigma that comes from being low SES. While low-income students do exist in medicine, it is not something that is openly talked about.”

Stephanie reflects on the article she published In 2017 titled Under-privilege as Privilege ( to bring light to the need for diversity-focused mentorship "That year, we had lots of buy-in and support to create the Diversity Mentorship Program and expand it to other equity-seeking groups beyond low-income and FIF." In a short time, progress on diversity initiatives have been exponential - it is now an accreditation standard across all medical schools and admissions is taking into account that medical school application is not an equal playing field.

As more schools are focusing on diversifying their student demographic, the DMP has an important role in Inclusion and Equity, ensuring that the diverse students accepted into medical school are included in the medical culture and given an equal opportunity when it comes to career and specialty goals. Since the start of the DMP, University of Toronto has had over 100+ mentor-mentee relationships established each year. This is our first publication on the program exploring how mentees are benefitting from the program and what they value in a mentoring relationship.”

Thank you, Stephanie, for your leadership in this important area and congratulations on your publication!

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