Rapid Rounds: 5 Minutes with Dr. Alex Bastiany
Meet Dr. Alex Bastiany! She is best known for being the first Black female Interventional Cardiologist in Canada, but that’s not all. She strives to be an advocate and mentor for the next generation of young Black women entering healthcare – especially Cardiology.
Continue reading to find out more about what Dr. Alex would like to see changed and improved for Black doctors in Canada and what advice she would give them.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! What made you want to get into the medical field and specifically into your specialty?
I was born and raised in Montreal, by Haitian parents. Both my mom and dad are scientists! My father is a chemist: he comes up with chemical formulas every day! My mother is a registered nurse, and she is one of the most passionate people I’ve seen. She loves, loves her job.
I grew up in a strict environment, ruled by Haitian values, where education was a priority. Very early, I found myself interested in science. I was also involved in community work in my neighbourhood. Medicine was the perfect marriage between my passion for biology and my vocation to help and be close to people.
The cardiovascular system is complex yet so simple. The heart is the core of the circulatory system, and after rotating in cardiology, my career choice became clear. This specialty is always evolving and not one cardiology case is the same.
With interventional cardiology, I felt like could have a significant and direct impact on patients’ life.
2. You’ve shared “Only 6% of interventional cardiologists are female in Canada!! It’s time for change!!” – what changes do you think need to happen to encourage growth in this specialty?
Women remain vastly underrepresented in cardiovascular (CV) medicine and science in Canada. Only 20% of cardiovascular specialties physicians are women, and there is also a major underrepresentation of women in interventional cardiology with only 6% of women in that field!
I believe mentorship is key. There is currently a lack of representation and a lack of mentorship in CV fields. The first step would be to encourage sponsorship and mentorship of female trainees into CV medicine, surgery and science.
It is also mandatory to start promoting sex and gender-neutral professional culture, for instance, by reporting inequities and by providing a safe space to our female trainees and fellows.
The good news is the change is already happening! And I have my female colleagues and male counterpart to thank for this change.
3. How would you like to see things change and improved for Black doctors in Canada? What advice would you give them?
I personally would love to see equal opportunities for Black doctors and Black med students. In a recent survey of students in 14 English Canadian medical schools, 1.7% identified as Black. It’s time for change! There is currently a lack of engagement in constructive conversations about racial bias in Canada, and I believe the change starts there. It’s time to start talking about it! I would love to see more conversations about this issue. The CCS Equity, Diversity and Inclusion focus group, which I am a member of, was created last year. We are currently working towards documenting the situation of CV specialists from visible minorities. Another goal of this committee is to cultivate membership and leadership that reflects the characteristics and diversity of the medical profession in Canada, and the patient populations our members serve.
As for advice, I would tell my fellow Black colleagues that it is important to speak up and fight to create environments where Black med students and physicians can thrive, for a safe learning experience. I would also tell them that they’re not alone. There are associations and support groups for Black CV professionals. I would also tell students not to be afraid to reach out to Black mentors. Having that kind of support changes the training experience.
4. You share many articles, resources etc. on women and minority groups experiencing inequities in medicine, particularly cardiology on Twitter…what are the key takeaways you want your peers and future physicians to know and put into their own practice.
I would like my peers to start acknowledging the issue, as this is the first step to promoting change. It is also time to start creating more opportunities for minorities in CV medicine i.e. for female and Black physicians. I would also suggest putting in place institutional policies for a work-life balance and sex and gender-neutral culture in the workplace. This would definitely help create a safe workspace for all professionals.
(ref: Sex, Gender, and Equity in Cardiovascular Medicine, Surgery, and Science in Canada: Challenges, Successes, and Opportunities for Change. Banks et al. CJC Open 2 (2020) 522e529)
5. How do you ensure the quality of patient care is constantly improving?
I make sure to keep up to date with the latest literature, and I am always sharing my knowledge with my nursing staff. I recently brought back General Cardiology Rounds at our institution, as a way to promote continuous learning, which definitely benefits patient care by educating our cardiology staff.
I also established a connection with physicians from other regional centres with different services, in order to offer the best care to my patients. Collaboration is key, and sometimes, referring a patient is the best thing to do!
Want to know more about Dr. Alex? Check out these links:
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