Dr. Habibat Aziz Garuba, MD, FRCPC (Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada)

Dr. Habibat Garuba at her high school graduation

Dr. Habibat Garuba MD, FRCPC at her high school graduation

William Osler, a Canadian physician and one of the founding fathers of Johns Hopkins Hospital once said “we are here to add what we can from life, not to get what we can from life”. This philosophy was the basis for my choice to pursue a career in medicine and has embodied all my academic and personal endeavours since then.

The foundation for that choice was laid during my childhood years which were spent in Nigeria, a West-African country which is rich in natural resources including oil, but a place where infectious diseases are still rampant and the inadequacies of the health care system impede the availability of and access to good medical care. I spent most of my happy childhood in the city of Lagos with my parents and two brothers. We were surrounded by an extremely close and loving extended family including my maternal grandmother who at an early age instilled in me a love of reading and an insatiable quest for knowledge. My immediate family later moved to Canada following my father’s diplomatic posting just before I began Grade 9.

Our journey in Canada was not always easy and there were many obstacles to overcome, the first of which was the brutal Ottawa winter, but we were quickly connected with a loving community at the Christ Chapel Bible Church led by Pastor Afolabi which eased the transition provided support through difficult times. I attended high school at Elmwood School in Ottawa and excelled academically, graduating in 2003 at the age of 15 with a full scholarship to the University of Toronto. My high school principal Dr. Carol Kirby and my academic counsellor Dr. Gardiner were two key individuals whose support and directed guidance during this time enabled me make informed choices about post-secondary education and encouraged me to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor wholeheartedly.

While at the University of Toronto, with strong encouragement from my mother, I completed a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree in 2008, graduating with First Class Honours and other awards in student leadership, research, and professionalism, and provincial/national advocacy. I then completed the licensing requirements to become a practicing pharmacist. I chose to study pharmacy initially because it enabled me translate my love of science into a practical and tangible way provide direct patient care. I was still very passionate about mitigating health care disparities in developing countries so during my time at U of T, I spearheaded research on pharmaceutical policy and counterfeit drug trafficking in Nigeria which was eventually published.

The desire for greater responsibility for my patients led me to further my studies at Queen’s University School of Medicine in Kingston, Ontario where I completed my Medical Doctorate (M.D.) degree, graduating with the Medal in Internal Medicine and the Edgar Forrester Prize for the highest standing in medicine in the final year. I began my residency in the specialty of Internal Medicine with the University of Ottawa at The Ottawa Hospital in July 2012. I completed my examinations in the specialty of Internal Medicine in June 2016 and am now licensed by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. I am currently furthering my specialization in a 3-year fellowship in Cardiology at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute which I will complete in July 2018. My particular interests are in echocardiography (using ultrasound to diagnose heart disease) and in cardiovascular disease management and prevention in low and middle income countries.

I credit all my success to my belief in God, a foundation in a strong Christian faith, to the steadfast support, encouragement, and guidance of my loving parents particularly my mother, and to the inspiration from two of my cousins Ezinne and Ebele who are also practicing physicians in the United States and who gave me a blueprint to follow for my own journey. I was also mentored by Dr. Kara Nerenberg, an internal medicine specialist who now practices in Calgary, Alberta and who taught me not to limit my potential because of transient life circumstances. There are many other destiny changers in my life who have been crucial to my success but there is not enough space here to thank them all. I am so appreciative of the support I have received and pay it forward by currently mentoring young girls who are interested in careers in the life sciences, particularly medicine or pharmacy.

Congratulations to all the other students and professionals who have reached important milestones in their academic journey. May you have continued success in all your endeavours!

If you are looking to be mentored in this particular area, please feel free to send me an email –habibat@gmail.com and I would be happy to help

 

 

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3 comments

  1. I am very proud of you, my beautiful well accomplished cousin, Habibat. My dear this is just the beginning. I see extreme greatness in you.

  2. Austin Peacemaker INAEDE August 14, 2016 at 9:04 am - Reply

    Your story is so inspiring, especially to young students and professionals from developing countries. It shows you can reach your dream and become what you want to be despite where you are coming from, with determination, hard work and core belief in God, and His love nature to impact lives. Indeed as a young Nigerian, am proud to read your story. And your parents back in Nigeria are amazing breeds with charitable acts…indeed you are a sowed seed like arrow in the hands of an archer! Thank you for inspiring us!

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