Darcy Good is the first member of his nation to get into medical school. Now, he wants to use his training from UBC to improve mental health within his First Nation community of Snuneymuxw on Vancouver Island and across the province.
Vancouver Island will always be my home, no matter where in the world I am. Getting the opportunity to study in the UBC Medical program on Vancouver Island was absolutely perfect for me at the start of my medical education. It’s filled with supportive faculty and staff. If I had to go back and relook at things, there really is no other school I’d pick for my undergraduate medical education.
In my early high school years, my family was going through a really difficult time. My stepfather had a minor heart attack and, then at the hospital, he had a major heart attack. All I remember is the intensive-care-unit doctor coming up to me and telling me he wasn’t going to let my stepfather die. Thankfully, he didn’t. During that time, my family had a lot of other things going on, too. My sister was struggling with her own mental health issues — and I don’t think she’d be here if my stepfather had passed away. Witnessing the impact that saving one life can make, not just on the individual but their entire family, had a huge effect on me.
I’d say that community is one of the most important factors for success. The university has recruited a lot of fantastic individuals. Getting to meet these people, who are also going to become doctors, has given me a lot of faith in the system. When times get really difficult, you can start to feel isolated and alone. Being surrounded by people who look out and care for me has brought me through some really hard times during the program. Not only did it reinforce the idea that it’s okay to ask for help, it reinforced why I got into medicine in the first place.
Mental health is not something I thought I’d find such a strong passion for. I really thought I was going to do family medicine when I started medical school. Having applied to psychiatry, I have a strong appreciation for the notion that in order to attend to a patient’s physical health, we must first take a holistic approach to care, including focusing on their mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. If people don’t have the capacity to care about medications because they’re dealing with mental health issues, they’re not going to achieve optimal health outcomes. So, if we can address mental health issues, we can actually help people get better physically and help them live the most fulfilling lives possible.
I’d say the interactions with other students and people from around the world. It’s nice being surrounded by the best and brightest minds there are — to have conversations with those people and to see some of the groundbreaking research going on around UBC is an amazing experience.
There are so many, it’s hard to pick just one. When you go through clerkship in third year, you get into clinical training. You go from lectures and labs to working on the wards. It’s great being able to apply what you’ve learned and actually help people. And, I’ve also had the opportunity to travel throughout the province and across the country for clinical training. I’ve been able to see other areas of Canada that I probably never would have seen.
Well, my most inspirational person isn’t at UBC, but they’re the reason why I’m here. So, I’d have to say my mom is the most inspirational role model I have. She grew up in very poor conditions. No running water, no electricity. She’s the youngest of 10 children and she faced a lot of abuse and adversity growing up, things I couldn’t possibly imagine facing as a child. Not only did she overcome her traumatic experiences and struggles, but she gave everything she had to her children so that we could have the opportunities we’ve had. I hope that I’ve made the most of those opportunities, and that I can make her proud.
I had the opportunity to do an elective in Maple Ridge, where we also went to two First Nations communities for outpatient clinics. I got to watch my preceptor deliver mental health services directly to the people who needed them in a place where they felt comfortable and safe. There was a lot of appreciation for a physician committing to coming into the communities on a regular basis. We had full-day clinics with patients regularly coming in, and very few no-shows. A lot of the people in First Nations communities don’t necessarily have access to transportation that can get them to hospitals or major centres for mental health services. They might not even know these services are available. Hopefully, one day, we’ll bring these things directly into those communities, and we’ll be able to improve mental health across the Island.