The Chronicle Herald: DONALDA MacISAAC: Diversity matters in health-care delivery


Donalda MacIsaac: "When you go into a location and you’re not represented, it has quite an impact on how you feel about yourself — you often feel isolated and marginalized." - QEII Foundation

Originally published on

I recently had the honour of being part of the selection committee for the Diversity in Health Care Bursaries, created by Nova Scotia Health in 2015 and funded by the QEII Foundation since 2018.

The selection process was even more meaningful this year. With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and living through COVID-19, we’ve become more focused on how we treat each other as human beings.

My passion for health care grew from my personal experience caring for loved ones. To help make a difference for my family and my community, I became involved with the Cobequid Community Health Board (CHB) in Lower Sackville. The CHBs throughout the province are made up of volunteers who share the goal of improving health and wellness in our communities.

During my term on the board, I was involved in the creation of a bursary program dedicated to students from diverse backgrounds studying in health care. Like watching a child grow up, I’ve watched this bursary program expand and thrive. The Diversity in Health Care Bursaries are key to building strong community role models within historically marginalized and under-represented groups: African Nova Scotian, Indigenous, immigrant, 2SLGBTQ and persons living with a disability.

Through this partnership between the QEII Foundation, Nova Scotia Health and the seven CHBs in Halifax/Eastern Shore/West Hants, the bursaries are helping to create a more diverse environment where we can learn from each other’s cultures — to look at each other as a family coming together.

The Diversity in Health Care Bursary program helps connect health-care professionals with their community’s cultural profile. This is important to patients and their families. When you go into a location and you’re not represented, it has quite an impact on how you feel about yourself — you often feel isolated and marginalized.

Not only is this bursary program helping to increase diversity, but it’s teaching future health-care professionals how to relate to diverse cultures and build on those relationships.

Diversity among health-care teams — in hospitals and in the community — provides opportunities to deliver quality care that contributes to patients’ well-being. For the students, education creates possibility. By providing financial assistance, we can help remove barriers. By celebrating these students for their uniqueness, we are giving them confidence to excel in their future careers and in life. This is great news for health care in our province — creating opportunities for people and communities.

I’ve witnessed the impact of these bursaries and it’s an incredible feeling to make a difference for these students and for the patients they now care for. Patients from diverse communities are beginning to see themselves reflected among those who are caring for them. And the students are thriving.

Donalda MacIsaac is a health advocate and community volunteer in Lower Sackville.


Learn more about Diversity in Health Care Bursaries funded by the QEII Foundation here.