It is OMSA’s utmost pleasure to share Mr. Henry Zhang, a fourth year medical student at the University of Ottawa to be April’s OMSA Medical Student. After having worked with him on numerous occasions in clinical and non-clinical settings, his peers say that his leadership, interpersonal skills and compassion have touched many lives and have been an inspiration to many colleagues.


On first meeting, you may think that Henry is one of the quietest thinkers. You will sense the halo of serenity around him. Once you get to know him more, you will notice that he’s likely the “listener” in most conversations. When you dig deeper, you realize that he is one of the strongest and most understanding of friends, also an invaluable counselor or advisor one can ever ask for in medicine.


Henry is a selfless and kind individual who has invaluable patience and interpersonal skills that can calm anyone. His compassion in listening to all without any judgment allows him to comfort people around him, and share mature and personal advise no one can ask for. His calming smile and composure invite people to come to him when they are in need of human-support – a factor we often tend to forget in hectic medicine world. Henry allows individuals to re-visit this very human component by making himself available to listen and comfort no matter how busy his schedule is. Hence, he’s sometimes dubbed “the class counselor”. Many classmates remember Henry as the person they went to when they had difficult personal developments in life, ranging from an academic problem to disappointments or to grief from death or difficult life circumstances or disappointment. Henry was supportive of their mental and emotional well-being. If Henry was ever unable to help, he was sure to connect students to appropriate resources. By being a personal advocate, such asset allows him to remind individuals the most basic reason why we all pursued medicine in the first place – to help people; he certainly provides us that opportunity to re-visit our major intent, reflect, and how we can be a better person.


When he is not in “counselor” mode, Henry has always found meaningful ways to contribute on a broader scale to the medical community. During his time in medical school, Henry was very actively involved in advocacy initiatives. He participated in Leadership and Lobby Day with OMSA in 2012. With the newly gathered inspiration, Henry was co-founder of the “Health Advocacy Interest Group” at Ottawa. Through this new initiative, he helped run some big events that included bring three Members of Parliament to medical school to address the interface of health and politics. He was also an active participant in the Federal Lobby Day at Parliament Hill and some CFMS meetings.


With the understanding that “good practice cannot thrive without good policy”, Henry has shown great dedication to advancing knowledge, especially in the field of evidence-based solutions to primary care and health systems challenges. His research projects highlight the secretive nature of our drug pricing agreements, the inequalities in access to bariatric surgery and pharmacare, and the dangers of publication bias. His drive for innovation led for one of his submissions to be the only medical student abstract to be accepted at an innovative “Dangerous Ideas” Forum for an oral presentation at the national meeting of family physicians where he emphasized the great potential of utilizing social media in providing better patient care. He is guided by the principle that physicians have the “pulse” of their communities and are uniquely positioned to influence policy through research, advocacy and engagement.


Henry exudes a model of altruism and care that every physician should strive for. His capability to build strong relationships makes him an invaluable asset to have him as one of Canada’s physicians. As a future family physician, we cannot wait to witness high-quality care he will be able to provide to his patients not just medically but well-needed emotional care, the very human component of medicine we shall not forget.