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#UofTGrad17: The doctor will see you now

Venus Valbuena is part of the Faculty of Medicine's Class of 2017. She promoted student wellness at U of T and worked on a resilience curriculum for the Faculty

Faculty of Medicine grads come from varied backgrounds

Before joining U of T's Faculty of Medicine, Justin Lam completed an undergraduate degree in art history from Stanford University, Venus Valbuena trained as a registered nurse, and Ryan Giroux, who is Métis from rural Alberta, did his bachelor's degree in anthropology.

Today, all three are members of the Faculty of Medicine's Class of 2017.

They graduated Tuesday, and are part of the more than 18,000 students who are part of the Class of 2017 at U of T, with almost 14,000 graduating in 27 ceremonies running from June 6 to June 22. 


Lam (above) says his humanities background offered him a unique perspective on the “bigger picture” of health care.

“My training in the humanities and social sciences taught me the art of close looking – the skill of visual analysis for little details and fitting those details into a larger picture, literally and figuratively,” says Lam. “I’ve always been interested in the bigger picture – understanding context and structural and systemic issues. This pushed me to be a better medical student.”

He's hoping to pursue a career in paediatrics.

Read more about Lam

Valbuena will do her residency in family medicine. At U of T, she was involved in working on a resilience component of the new Foundations Curriculum at the Faculty of Medicine and was a video participant in a student wellness initiative called Monologues in Medicine (MiM). 

“The Faculty's efforts highlight the importance of producing resilient, healthy doctors and changing the culture of the medical environment,” she says.

Read more about Valbuena

Giroux (above) was the National Officer of Indigenous Health for the Canadian Federation of Medical Students while at U of T. He helped put out recommendations on Indigenous student recruitment and contributed to creating an Indigenous health program that is working to Indigenize curricula at Canadian medical schools.

With his background in anthropology and interest in the human aspects of medicine, Giroux also has worked on compiling some of the world’s first detailed data on childhood tuberculosis in high-resource settings. He's helped collect information on 180 cases of childhood tuberculosis in Canada over three years, with 99 of them being Indigenous children.

“Longer term, I want to pursue Indigenous advocacy and medical education and some kind of work in global health,” he says. “And I want to focus on being a great paediatrician – to form relationships with patients, learn about them and their families, and be there for them.”

Read more about Giroux