A calling for medicine

Oct 03, 2002, vol. 25, no. 3
By Carol Thorbes

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The many challenges facing Canadian doctors these days are not deterring Gina Gill (left) from training for her dream profession.

The Simon Fraser University convocation speaker, who is receiving her bachelor of science with cooperative education experience this fall, says she is undeterred because “my love of medicine is grounded in reality.”

During her four years at SFU, Gill has spent as much time in hospital settings as she has in classrooms and labs. Working in the admitting department at Vancouver Children's hospital, she sees the traumas and patient backlogs which often tax doctors.

As an admitting clerk for the emergency department and outpatient clinics she appreciates the importance of rigorously screening in-coming hospital patients for contagious diseases.

Five years of volunteering at Surrey's Fraser blood donor clinic and fundraising for Surrey Memorial hospital's Children's Centre have convinced Gill of the life-saving and economic benefits of hospitals nurturing community relations.

“I've seen what it means to be in the medical field from many different perspectives,” says Gill, who started her post-secondary studies when she was 16 on a $20,000 Gordon Shrum scholarship. “I know I want to be a doctor for the right reasons.”

A desire to save sick children's lives has made Gill just as passionate about research as clinical medicine.

Her co-op experience has taken her to Ottawa where she researched ethical issues pertaining to biotechnology.

Gill also has worked with Allison Kermode, an associate professor of plant cell and molecular biology at SFU and Lorne Clarke, an associate professor of medical genetics at the University of B.C.

They are using plants to host the production of a human enzyme that could potentially cure Hurler Syndrome, a life-threatening genetic childhood disease.

Kermode's innovative research on using plant systems for medical applications and Clarke's successful marriage of his research career with his work as a pediatrician have inspired Gill's career path.

“She is a unique individual, highly intelligent and not afraid to explore areas that are new to her,” says Clarke of Gill, who is graduating with 4.17 (out of 4.33) cumulative grade point average. Gill is now seeking entrance to UBC's faculty of medicine.

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