Convocation 2016: Spotlight on graduate Jamal Depradine
From Summer Mentorship Program graduate to MD Program graduate
“Where I grew up in Scarborough, there weren’t many people who were involved in the medical professions,” recalls Jamal Depradine. The story of how Depradine went from that teen in Scarborough to a member of our 1T6 graduating class begins in 2004, when he enrolled in the Summer Mentorship Program (SMP). The SMP, administered by the Office of Health Professions Student Affairs (OHPSA), gives high school students of Black and Indigenous ancestry the opportunity to explore the health sciences at U of T. “During SMP, I started envisioning myself in these professional positions,” he says.
After SMP, Depradine continued to volunteer at Mount Sinai Hospital, where he had done an SMP placement. Meanwhile, he earned his BSc (honours with distinction) in physiology from U of T. He followed up his BSc with a Master of Management of Innovation (MMI) from the Institute for Management and Innovation at UTM. “I wanted to understand the factors that played into decision-making and prepare to be a leader for change in medicine,” he says. Depradine shared the Director’s Award for achievement in this program.
After receiving his MMI, Depradine worked as an analyst in health care research and planning. As he prepared to apply to medical school, he returned to OHPSA for guidance and support. “The outreach team was so helpful, in terms of practical matters like practice interviews, but also with motivation. The message I got was always, ‘You are capable of more. You can pursue more. And we will be here to support you.’”
Depradine devoted much of his time in the MD Program to service including sitting on the SMP Alumni Society’s Executive Committee. As U of T Medical Society’s VP of Community Affairs, Depradine had oversight of student-run programs in which students learn about the social determinants of health. Depradine himself conducted research with the Street Health Nursing Foundation, where he worked on projects to improve the quality of service for under-housed populations. “I feel that the fundamental ethos of medicine is to identify suffering and vulnerable people, and to do the most I can to address their suffering and vulnerability.”
He was also in the Leadership Education and Development program (LEAD). “The LEAD program taught me how to marshal my skills to lead transformational change,” he explains. “I want to be a physician that makes a substantive impact. In LEAD, I got experience in strategic decision-making in medicine, which will help me achieve the higher-level objectives I have for our health care system.”
Depradine is set to begin his residency in internal medicine in Ottawa, after which he plans to train as a cardiologist. “People think that doctors doing community work need to be in family practice or in public health,” he says. “But if those are your fundamental values, you will find a way to incorporate them into whatever you do.” He notes that one of our biggest health inequities is in cardiovascular health. “People in the lowest income percentile are much more likely to die of cardiovascular disease. So there’s a lot of work to do in cardiology. I think all physicians regardless of specialty need to look at social principles as their fundamental responsibility.”
Depradine plans to continue to give back wherever and whenever he can. “I want to be a role model and motivate people to be socially impactful. I want to give back what was given to me.”