Refugee Health Initiative

2017/2017 Team Leaders: Andre Azzam, Kina Ellison, John Liu

What is the Refugee Health Initiative?

  • RHI logoAn exciting  FLEX opportunity that pairs medical students with newly arrived refugee families in the Lower Mainland.
  • Through personal mentorship over the course of one year, we aim to help refugees adapt to life in BC by:
    • facilitating access to various community resources
    • increasing refugees’ health literacy and ability to navigate the BC healthcare system
    • promoting healthy living
    • advocacy
    • acting as an advocate
    • being a friendly resource in a new and unfamiliar setting
  • Together with a volunteer interpreter, medical students meet with their paired family 2-4 times per month during their FLEX time.
  • During a successful pilot program and our first full academic year in 2016-2017, twenty students from the Vancouver-Fraser program have partnered with a total of eighty-four refugees across Greater Vancouver.
  • Along with the family partnership program, RHI participants are conducting two research projects, and medical students have developed and presented workshops on the Canadian healthcare system, maternal health, and healthy living.

Why get involved?

  • Gain experience in working with a population that you WILL encounter in your future careers!
  • Improve your cross-cultural communication skills.
  • Learn about the different social resources available in BC and how to access these.
  • Practice working with interpreters.
  • Learn about the exciting field of refugee health in Canada.
  • Opportunities for research projects and developing health-related workshops.

Note: Unfortunately, the Refugee Health Initiative is not able to accept non-medical students. The project involves shadowing in clinics and looking at medical records, and both of these are tasks require an educational medical license.

RHI Team 2016-2017

Where can I find out more?

  • Visit the Refugee Health Initiative website:
  • Contact the RHI Team Leaders: