KW physician Dr. Arya becomes the Faculty of Health Sciences’ first ever scholar-in-residence

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Photo by Jackie Vang

The Faculty of Health Sciences has recently announced that they will be appointing Dr. Neil Arya as their first ever scholar-in-residence.

Dr. Arya is a family physician in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, as well as chair of the PEGASUS Global Health Conference and president of the Canadian Physicians for Research and Education in Peace (CPREP).

Appointed to the position for two years, the aim of having a scholar-in-residence is to transfer the knowledge and real-world experience Dr. Arya has had to students as well as helping with directed studies.

Dr. Arya’s areas of research include the health of marginalized and refugee populations.

“The formal roles are more in terms of teaching a directed studies course, so I have seven students who are learning about family medicine around the world. We will try to associate that with health systems’ performance, so this is something that we are doing for the fall,” Arya said.

Laurier is not the first institute Dr. Arya has worked at. He has already had experience working at post-secondary institutions, as he is an adjunct professor of Environment and Resource studies at the University of Waterloo, an assistant clinical professor in Family Medicine at McMaster University and was a founding director of the Global Health Office at Western University.

Arya’s aim at Laurier is not strictly to look at alternative medicines in the world in the global health perspective, but rather the ways that Western medicine and its systems are affected by influxes of refugees from other countries.

“I’ve got a few students who are also volunteering with me; we have modules on collected tropical disease that I was involved with developing and so they need to be updated,” Arya said.

“Other perspectives on medicine, like in India having homeopathy or Unani, it’s not so much that, although I will be meeting with people in Delhi University, that’s not the specific role to look at.”

“I have a book coming out in the next week about health determinants in underserved populations in Canada, so concentrating on indigenous refugees and students will help me doing a web supplement — beyond that we’re looking at relationships overseas, not just in health sciences.”

His goal is that with how involved he is with organizations who are developing ways to transform global health systems, his resources will be of use to students who are looking to achieve the same end goal.

“Over the last many years, I’ve developed contacts overseas, but also in Canada with the organizations I work with, and I think that using some of those could be of use. During my time at the Global Health Office at Western University I made some exchange partners there,” said Arya.

He also wants to make sure students are equipped with the tools they need when traveling across the world to accomplish these tasks.

“It involves a bit more obligation on the students, but it may lead to a richer experience having true partnerships overseas,” said Arya.

“I think that right now we have great support from the international office, so I hope to enhance what’s already there.”

Although things like alternative medicine do play a role in health and healing overseas, the aim of Dr. Arya and his directed studies students is not only to educate themselves on these topics, but rather to include them in their vision of global health.

“Other perspectives on medicine, like in India having homeopathy or Unani, it’s not so much that, although I will be meeting with people in Delhi University, that’s not the specific role to look at,” Arya said.

“Many of the students in health sciences may be using me as a connection in the health system.”

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