Canadian Medical Association

Dr. Kimberly Williams

It's probably not surprising that Dr. Kimberly Golding Williams is a community builder. From an early age, she watched her mother, a social worker, advocate for children and other vulnerable members of the community. Having that role model helped shape her own core values.

"I believe the strength of any community depends on the strength of each and every person," she says. "If we want to build strong communities, we need to take care of each other and make sure those who are struggling get the help they need."

That commitment inspired Dr. Williams to pursue a medical career, but she recognizes that finding ways to improve people's health and well-being often falls outside medical treatment.

"As physicians, it's important for us to expand our focus and advocate for things like housing-first models and expanding telehealth options for northern and rural communities," she says.

Embracing national leadership

Dr. Williams has also worked to protect the well-being and interests of residents and other physicians.

In 2016 and 2017, as president of Resident Doctors of Canada (RDOC), she was instrumental in expanding the reach of RDOC's resiliency curriculum.

In other national leadership roles, she has created guidelines for equitable accommodations for medical trainees with a disability. She has served as a board member for several professional associations, including the Canadian Medical Association, and has been a chief resident at the University of Calgary during her residency.

Supporting mental health in Tanzania

Before going to medical school, Dr. Williams earned a Master's of Science degree in global health. As a medical student, she had the chance to bring together her passion for community and global health on a placement in Tanzania.

There, she observed that in the Mwanza region, the population — 2.8 million people — had access to just one psychiatrist. When she returned to Canada, she co-founded Kolabo, a collaborative program to expand psychiatric training in Tanzania housed within the University of Calgary.

"It was really important to us to work with our partners at the Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences Medical School in Tanzania to make sure the program was built collaboratively with them and was culturally sensitive and sustainable," says Dr. Williams. "Right now, we're filling a gap, but the plan is to eventually not be needed at all."

Since 2016, Kolabo has trained more than 800 Tanzanian medical students, funded the training of two more psychiatrists, and is well on its way to helping establish a new psychiatric residency program.

Passing the torch

As Dr. Williams transitions out of residency into her final year of training as a neuropsychiatry fellow, she remains involved with Kolabo but has been able to hand over some of the active management of the project to newer residents.

"It's very satisfying to see the new generation come in with their own experiences and ideas on how to make the project even better," she says. "They're moving things forward in ways I hadn't even thought of."

Dr. Kimberly Williams is receiving the CMA Award for Young Leaders (Resident) in recognition of her exemplary dedication, commitment and leadership in education, research and community service.

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