Faces of U of T Medicine: Paul Galiwango
For the past five years, Dr. Paul Galiwango has organized the annual Black Physicians Association of Ontario Symposium, which is one of the primary forums for physicians and health care workers to learn the latest medical information on conditions affecting Black communities in the province. This year’s symposium is on Saturday February 25 at Mount Sinai Hospital. A U of T Medicine graduate, Galiwango has been a staff cardiologist at Scarborough Centenary Hospital since 2008, where he is medical director of the Cardiac Diagnostics lab. He also founded and co-directs the Cardiac CT Angiography program. He spoke with writer Liam Mitchell about the symposium and his pathway to medicine.
How did you come to organize the annual Black Physicians Association of Ontario (BPAO) Symposium?
I was approached by the President of BPAO at the time. It was still a relatively young organization, but we were well-enough established that we wanted to start offering more educational programming. We created the program around what our attendees wanted to know, using their feedback from previous years to identify topics and potential speakers. Over the five years, we’ve built a strong program that is formally accredited.
What can attendees at this year’s conference expect?
Our keynote speaker is Dr. Husam Abdel-Qadir, who will speak about lowering blood pressure. Hypertension is a major issue in Black communities, which face lower life expectancies. But we’ll also hear talks on topics like breast and cervical cancer, arthritis and HIV prevention and treatment.
What inspired your interest in medicine?
Well it was a pretty easy choice for me. I grew up in a medically focused household. My father was a paediatrician and my mother was a nurse. But over the years, I also had the opportunity to identify other mentors who helped guide my path into cardiology. For example, a good friend of mine had an older sister who was in medical school. So I was able to talk to her about what it was like and how best to prepare for medical school.
What do you tell Black students who are interested in medicine?
First and foremost, be dogged in pursuit of your goals. A lot of people — not just Black students — are not confident about their ability to perform in medical school. That’s especially hard when you don’t see yourself represented in the profession. The BPAO is working on more active outreach programs, not just to undergraduate students, but also high school students. We want to start early to help students see the opportunities available. We’re also partnering with different community organizations to support our outreach efforts.
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