Faces of U of T Medicine: Latif Murji
Dr. Latif Murji is a recent U of T Medicine graduate and a current family medicine resident at St. Michael’s Hospital. Earlier this year, Latif received the Canadian Medical Association’s Award for Young Leaders largely for his work on Stand Up for Health, a roleplaying simulation that lets medical students gain better understanding of the social determinants of health through experiential learning. Latif talked to writer Julia Soudat about his work and experiences at U of T.
Tell us a little bit about Stand Up For Health. What is it and what led you to create it?
Growing up in Scarborough, I had 21 years of lived experience to reflect on when I first encountered social determinants of health (SDOH). For the first time, my world began to make sense. But the same concepts weren’t connecting with my peers, and it didn’t take long to recognize it was my lived experience that had made the difference. The SDOH is about people, and I sought to create a more human experience to make the numbers come to life. So just before my first year of medical school at U of T, I started developing Stand Up for Health.
It’s an immersive simulation that gives participants a better understanding and appreciation of the social determinants of health through experiential learning. Participants are placed in the role of Canadians living in poverty and must interact, make choices, and solve challenges within their given set of circumstances. The latter portion of the workshop consists of a facilitated discussion on challenges faced by marginalized Canadians as well as on public policy that leads to a healthy and equitable society.
What was the most rewarding aspect of being a student at UofTMed? How did support from UofT help you along your journey?
I’ve been very fortunate to have received my MD from U of T and to stay on for residency. I’ve worked in world-renowned institutions and have been taught and mentored by world-class faculty. The support and guidance I’ve received from these individuals has been the catalyst to the success of my work. Having a special interest in social determinants of health, I’ve found St. Michael’s Hospital to be an ideal fit. With so many leaders in the field, it’s an enriching environment to learn and collaborate within.
In addition to Stand Up for Health in the MD curriculum, you teach Clinical Skills, Case Based Learning, Family Medicine Longitudinal Experience, and co-supervise MD students for their Community Based Service Learning project. What do you enjoy most about supervising other U of T students?
Stand Up for Health serves as a more elaborate example, but I just really enjoy conveying my understanding of concepts into terms relatable to students. Seeing the “aha moment” in my students is an unparalleled feeling for me. I learn a lot from interacting with students and exchanging ideas. It’s something I want to continue doing throughout my career.
What advice do you have for current and incoming UofTMed students?
Being a medical student can be really challenging. Keep your eye on the big picture, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Make a conscious effort to balance your schoolwork with leisure activities. Your relationships will be what get you through the toughest times; nurture them. Extreme competitiveness in a process stifles creativity. Don’t let the pressure of CaRMS force you down a singular path - explore different fields of interest, work on projects that you are genuinely passionate about, and give yourself time and space for ideas to bubble.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I envision a career as a family physician working at the crossroads of patient care, advocacy, and medical education. In terms of Stand Up for Health, we plan to finish our mobile app soon (we’re beta testing it right now!), which will allow us to scale across the country. I hope that Stand Up for Health will be a curricular activity for teaching the SDOH in all of Canada’s health professional programs. We are concurrently working on expansion simulations, such as Stand Up for Indigenous Health, which will make a further impact on SDOH education in Canada.
Faces of U of T Medicine introduces you to some of the interesting people studying in the Faculty of Medicine. From advising political leaders to providing care to Toronto’s most vulnerable populations, our students are making an impact on communities at home and around the world.
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