Queen’s medical student Mohamed (Mo) Gemae has been named a 2023 recipient of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF) Award for Medical Students.
The CMHF celebrates Canadian heroes whose work advances health in Canada and the world. The CMHF Award for Medical Students recognizes second-year medical students who demonstrate qualities such as perseverance, collaboration, and entrepreneurial spirit and show outstanding potential as future leaders and innovators of health care in Canada. Recipients must have an established track record of community leadership, superior communication skills, and a demonstrated interest in advancing knowledge.
Gemae’s interest in medicine began when he realized there was a general lack of cultural safety in healthcare. A point brought home to him when his mother’s healthcare provider dismissed her neck mass by assuming it was caused by “her tight hijab.” “That was my wake-up call. I realized that biases can kill patients,” says Gemae. “And this is a concept that I plan to carry with me for the rest of my career.”
As the 2022-23 Aesculapian Society President, Gemae has been focused on advocating for equity-focused initiatives. He served as co-executive for the Queen’s Muslim Medical Association which helped to open the multi-faith prayer space at the Nest (School of Medicine building) and was the lead organizer of the inaugural Health Sciences Ramadan Iftar event.
He holds a Kinesiology degree from the University of Ottawa, where he graduated with a Faculty Gold Medal. While there, he was a lead mentor to high school students helping them prepare for their academic and social transition to university. He also helped start an academic mentorship program for first-year Queen’s med students.
Gemae values the sacrifices his family made to immigrate to Canada and is a volunteer with Kingston Youth and Employment Services helping refugee families settle in Kingston. He hopes to empower youth from underserved communities through mentorship, while also promoting understanding and respect across all cultures and religions in the field.
“I am honoured and humbled to have been selected for this award, but I also recognize the responsibility that comes with it. This award fuels my drive to break down barriers and biases in healthcare, and to continue advocating for the needs of my community,” adds Gemae.
As part of his CMHF Award honour, Gemae receives a cash prize of $5,000 and a travel subsidy to attend the 2024 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Vancouver, where he will have the opportunity to interact with health leaders from across the country.