It was a patient she encountered early on in her fourth year of medical school that reinforced for Dr. Jacqueline Carverhill (MD’19) the importance of providing good care to everyone, regardless of social status.
She sat at the bedside of a Congolese refugee who had been forcibly separated from his family. The man in his 50s was homeless and dying of advanced prostate cancer. He had lost all of his belongings -- including his cellphone -- when he was admitted to the palliative care unit in a state of delirium. So he couldn’t communicate with anyone outside the four walls of his hospital room.
As the only member of the care team who spoke French, she translated for him.
“But mostly, I listened,” says Carverhill, who is seven months into a two-year residency in family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton. “As with countless other clinical interactions, it reminded me that in order to truly honour my patients’ vulnerability, I need to combine my clinical passions with broader advocacy that champions health equity as the ultimate goal.”
Carverhill’s commitment to looking out for those less fortunate started early. She grew up in a family that was “very social justice oriented,” says Carverhill. Her parents had her set aside Halloween candy she’d collected trick or treating, to share with sick children staying at Ronald McDonald House.
Carverhill can remember being about six, and rather than spending the money she’d socked away to buy herself a Beanie Baby, she contributed it to a hamper at Christmas so another child would have a toy under the tree. “I am sure that the values my parents raised me with have influenced the kind of medicine I want to practice,” says Carverhill, who last year was named Student Leader of the Year by the Saskatchewan Medical Association.