Dr. Anees Bahji and Kacper Niburski were recognized today for their outstanding leadership skills, as the 2020 recipients of the Sandra Banner Student Award for Leadership (SBSAL).

The Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) Board of Directors launched the SBSAL in 2013 with the aim of encouraging the development of future leaders in medicine. The annual award recognizes the exceptional leadership of one undergraduate medical student and one postgraduate medical trainee. Each of this year’s winners will receive up to $3,000 in leadership development funding.

Kacper Niburski is a third-year McGill medical student with a keen interest in social change. He founded the Community Health and Social Medicine (CHASM) Incubator at McGill to help students build projects that address the needs of the most vulnerable in their communities. With mentorship, a curriculum, and funding, CHASM provides sustainable project development for those who need it most in Montreal.

“I’d like to thank the awards committee and CaRMS for granting me this award. During such a peculiar and disastrous time as that brought about by COVID-19, this award has increased value and importance to me,” said Mr. Niburski. “CHASM, which I founded in 2017 and toward which this award will be going, works exclusively on dealing with minority populations who are disproportionately disenfranchised when it comes to a disease like COVID-19. I’m grateful for the opportunity to make lasting change.”

Dr. Anees Bahji is a fifth-year psychiatry resident at Queen’s University. He developed an interest in mental health and addiction issues after working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community. In his residency, he has focused on addictions psychiatry with a special interest in chronic pain, personality disorders and trauma. Dr. Bahji’s passion for research and education has seen him work as a clinical skills instructor and has also resulted in collaborations with the TED-Ed organization to create short animated videos on a variety of educational topics.

“I would like to share this award with the extraordinary resident physicians who I have worked with in the past—and who I hope to work with in the future. The fearless work that they do every second of every day to sustain the life force of Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic is truly immeasurable,” said Dr. Bahji. “This award will give me the opportunity to foster the skills I need to promote addictions training among psychiatrists and develop a community of practitioners across Canada that can be mobilized to address current unmet needs.”

CaRMS Board of Directors Awards Committee Chair Dr. Jay Rosenfield congratulated the winners. “On behalf of the CaRMS Board of Directors and the Awards Committee, I would like to congratulate Kacper Niburski and Anees Bahji,” said Dr. Rosenfield. “These two truly outstanding medical learners have demonstrated a deep understanding of the broader issues of health care,  a deep caring for and commitment to patients, families and their community, and a level of leadership which is sure to strengthen and enrich the Canadian health care system in years to come.”

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