Resident Spotlight: Dr. Boluwaji Ogunyemi

Happy July, Residents! How was your Canada Day?

For June’s Resident Spotlight, we caught up with Dr. Boluwaji Ogunyemi as he finished off his Dermatology residency. Dr. Ogunyemi has been involved with RDBC initiatives throughout his residency, the Canadian Dermatology Association, writing for media outlets such as The Vancouver Sun and the The New York Times, as well as many more accomplishments. We were happy to chat with him about his time in Residency, and wish him all the best in his future pursuits!

During your residency, you’ve participated not only in several of RDBC’s own committees—our Board of Directors, chairing the Communications Committee—but also served as the Chief Dermatology Resident at UBC, and as a board member of the Canadian Dermatology Association. You’ve also worked outside of Canada, in places such as Nigeria and Vietnam. With such a breadth of experience, what would you say has been the most impactful for you as a person, and on your career?

That’s a tough one! Travelling to and working in different settings has been very impactful because it allows me to gain a new perspective on how a society functions and the implications for health and health care delivery. In London, UK, where I completed a rotation that focused on dermatologic disorders in patients with darker skin types, I had the opportunity to work in their private and public system and compare and contrast them. My rotation in Nigeria was especially meaningful since the teaching hospital in Lagos was located close to the family’s house and so I got a chance to spend quite a bit of time with my extended family. I learned about some of the unique challenges that facing indigenous populations and refugee medicine in my rotations in a refugee medicine clinic in BC and Nain, Happy Valley Goose Bay and Sheshatshiu, Labrador.

Each of the organizations that you have listed have given me so much in terms of honing my leadership style, improving communications, advocacy skills, working as a team and more. Locally, I have benefited from collaboration, networking and inspiration from attending major meeting including the World Congress of Dermatology, the Canadian Medical Association General Council, National Medical Association Annual Meeting on scholarship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

You are a strong advocate for diversity, inclusion, and have also written in the medical humanities and medical education fields. What have been some of the achievements and challenges of this, when balancing it with residency? 

In terms of writing for general audiences, I find this, in a way, to be an extension of work. Insofar that communicating complex scientific and clinical information to patients is a core competency for a medical trainee, communication to the general population is a skill that I see an expansion of this.

As a physician, part of my role is to be able to form connections with patients of all walks of life that seek my care and the best part of my job is the diverse patient population that I get to serve. Outside of the hospital, I advocate for diversity in medical school classrooms, among leadership and in other settings because I think that a diverse group, in terms of socioeconomic, race and ethnicity, gender allows for many perspectives to be heard and appreciated. 

Your articles have been published in The New York Times, Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, and The Vancouver Sun. Do you have any words of advice for Residents also interested in writing along the same or similar topics? 

I think that some people think that writing is one of those traits that one either has or does not have when in fact it is a skill that can be improved upon. Finding one’s voice is fundamental in persuasive writing – understanding different sides of an issue and choosing and giving a rationale. I liken this to being able to come up with a differential diagnosis, choosing a preferred diagnosis and being able to justify it. I really think that the thought processes in writing and clinical reasoning can be quite similar.

Practical tips include leaving a draft for a day or two then re-visiting it. I find this second take a good opportunity to look at the draft with a fresh perspective.

In general, for persuasive and perhaps less so, for expository writing, issues that one is passionate about tend to be great topics to write about. I think that writing for general audiences by physicians represents a great opportunity to research a topic of interest, increase health literacy of the population and practice communication skills! 

With your residency drawing to a close, what are your plans for the future? 

I plan to move to St. John’s, Newfoundland to work in medical dermatology in the community and to have an academic appointment at the university-affiliated hospitals. I will share on-call responsibilities for acute dermatology cases and take part in teaching and mentoring medical students and residents.

Outside of clinical work, I plan to continue my contributions toward, health advocacy medical education, leadership and administration within medicine and promoting diversity and inclusion.

Dr. Ogunyemi can be found on Twitter (@OgunyemiMD), as well as as LinkedIn. If you are interested in reading more of his articles, feel free to visit his The Huffington Post author profile. 

author: Sasha Zalyvadna