Helly Goez

Pediatric neurologist and developmental pediatrician. Socially conscious physician. Leader by example.

Kirsten Bauer - 17 October 2017

Appointed as the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry's first assistant dean, diversity, on January 1, 2017, Helly Goez's mission is to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive faculty where differences are seen as strengths.

"We bring our stories and life experiences with us to the places that we live. In order to give students the flavour of life and what it really means to be a doctor, there is so much more than knowing how to do things from a hands-on procedural perspective," said Goez, an expert on learning, early brain development and metabolism.

When she became the MD program's four-year physicianship course co-ordinator in 2016, Goez seized the opportunity to integrate diverse perspectives on culture, gender and global health into traditionally science-based topics, making them more relevant and tangible to medical students.

When a course covers cardiac transplantation science, for example, organ transplant recipients and their family members are invited to class to share their perspectives with students. Classes about the vitality of brain tissue integrate content on how ethnicity and religion can affect decisions involving organ donation. Diabetes course content presents an opportunity to discuss social determinants of health and culturally competent care for Indigenous people.

These modules are unique to the U of A and materials will be shared with other medical schools.

"Students want to know everything about anatomy, medications and genes. But our patients aren't a condition with a person, they're a person with a medical condition, having their own unique needs and understanding, their own family and community, and this impacts their decisions regarding their health and often determines their medical journey," said Goez.

Goez was recognized in March 2017 with a University of Alberta Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award.