The chase for excellence continues…

April 2014

amazingchase_500McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine is known for many things, including being the first medical faculty in the country. Now, in an effort to raise funds for its new undergraduate medical curriculum, the Faculty is making a foray into adventure travel in the spirit of The Amazing Race.

The Amazing Chase across Asia is a 12-day adventure across Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand that will take place from October 27 to November 7, 2014. Teams of two will search for clues and compete for a $1000 prize while fundraising for the Community Health Alliance Project (CHAP). CHAP seeks to place all second year students in the new MDCM curriculum with partnering health-related community organizations.

“By participating, you’ll not only gain from cross-cultural immersion but also provide beneficial aid to your community, says Dr. Robert Primavesi, MDCM’85, the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education at McGill. “Not to mention having the most fun you’ve ever had!”

Dr. Primavesi knows what he’s talking about. A past participant in the race, he has subsequently guided 11 teams across the finish line. Along with Dr Vincent Poirier, MDCM’96, an Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine and Dr. Christina Tong, MDCM’94, from the Department of Family Medicine, he will do the same for this year’s eager participants.

From cruising down the Mekong River to searching for local delicacies in a Cambodian market, each day promises to offer the experience of a lifetime. “No one is going to get eliminated,” says Dr. Primavesi about the Amazing Chase, “and no one is going to have to sleep on the floor at the railway station.” While it is loosely based on the reality series The Amazing Race, McGill’s version of the race is more about the experience and fundraising for CHAP than it is about winning.

To participate, all players need is a mobile phone, a digital camera, a backpack and a willing teammate. In addition to the participation fee which covers airfare and hotel costs, each participant will need to raise a minimum of $5,000 towards the new MDCM curriculum and CHAP.

One participant in this year’s Amazing Chase is Dr. Robert Carlin, MDCM’95, a Faculty Lecturer in the Department of Family Medicine and the Director of CHAP.

CHAP, which began as a student-led initiative, aims to expose medical students to the social, environmental, economic and historical determinants of the health of Montreal populations at the beginning of their careers. “It keeps [students] engaged with their communities and recognizes students that were already doing volunteer work – but it also gets students who were not already volunteering involved,” says Dr. Carlin.  It’s an integral part of the Faculty’s new curriculum and one of several priorities that this year’s Annual Fund is helping bring to life.

“The program provides a context to some of the basic science students are learning. For example, in class, students could be learning about bone physiology and working with Hope & Cope, they’re actually dealing with cancer metastasis in bones – and how it affects people,” says Dr. Carlin.

Since 1981, in association with the Jewish General Hospital, Hope & Cope has responded to the psychosocial needs of cancer patients and their caregivers and has been recognized nationally and internationally for excellence and innovation in cancer care. Other partnering organizations include the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, which provides shelter and support to Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis women and their children who are in difficulty and AMI-Quebec, which helps families manage the effects of mental illness through support, education, guidance, and advocacy.

“Doing fundraising for the Chase has reminded me that many community organizations, the ones that CHAP works with, also have to do fundraising in order to provide their services. A lot of them are not-for-profit organizations,” says Dr. Carlin. “While they may get some government funding or community support, via a CLSC for example, many of them also count on donations to survive.”

For more information or to sign-up for the Amazing Chase across Asia, visit: http://www.mcgill.ca/medicine/alumni/amazing-chase.

For more information about the new MDCM curriculum, visit: https://www.mcgill.ca/new-mdcm/.

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