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Could you be a surgeon? A Toronto program wants racialized students to consider the career

A program that gives under-served Toronto high school students the chance to experience life as a surgeon continues to grow. “The Next Surgeon” launched last year with the goal of diversifying the health-care system.

Launched by Toronto Community Housing (TCH) and the Unity Health Toronto hospital network, the program invites high school students who live in TCH buildings to study cardiac surgery for a semester. 

TCH selects the candidates, and the students participate in a multi-week hands-on program, consisting of workshops, interactive sessions, and mentorship opportunities. They’re also given guidance to help them navigate their future educational journeys.

“We want the heart surgery teams to reflect the patients we serve, the communities that we serve, and the communities we serve are very diverse,” said Dr. Bobby Yanagawa, founder of the program and division head of cardiac surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital.

“We have some simulations where they get their hands wet and do what we do, so it gives them the confidence to say, ‘Yes, I could be a heart surgeon, this is in my grasp,'” Yanagawa said.

The surgeon says the program has already expanded after its first year to include more students and areas of healthcare.

The hope is that they see more support so it can continue to grow.

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