INNOVATION FUND The Future of Academic Medicine Innovative Approaches to Care Delivery, Public Health, and Equity, Diversity & Inclusion SHOWCASE 2023

The Next Surgeon: High School Coronary Anastomosis and Mentorship Project for Low‐Income Black and Indigenous Students

Innovative Approaches to Care Delivery, Public Health, and Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Bobby Yanagawa


the Division of Cardiac Surgery at St Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Service Learning and Diversity Outreach, Toronto Community Housing Corporation, and Ethicon (Raritan, New Jersey).


Akachukwu Nwakoby


St. Michaels Hospital
University of Toronto


The Next Surgeon program will increase diversity in the field of cardiac surgery and medicine. By reaching out to students at a young age (high school) we can reach them at a critical time in their life and change their trajectory. We believe that this program will encourage other institutions and fields to develop similar EDI initiatives across the country and globally. This program can easily be adopted by other institutions as it draws on resources that many medical schools already have (professors, simulations etc). It has already shown promise through positive outcomes as 4 students from the program enrolled in Canadian Bachelor of science university programs and one student was accepted into medical school overseas this year.



Black people constitute >6% of the Canadian population but only 1.7% of medical students. There has never been a Black Cardiac surgeon in Canada and just 1 indigenous cardiac surgeon. The ‘Next Surgeon: High School Mentorship Program’ addresses this disparity by encouraging Black and indigenous students to pursue careers in medicine and surgery.


The 12 week-long program recruited minority students from the Toronto Community Housing system. For representation, students participated in interactive lectures by Black cardiologists, surgeons, and anesthesiologists, who provided their own experiences and career trajectories. Students also enrolled in an online, hands-on coronary anastomosis simulation course led by Dr. Paul Sergeant, a world’s leader in surgical siumulation, and Dr. Bobby Yanagawa, an leader in surgical education. The students were proctored by two Black medical students who shared their resources on scholarships, university applications, research, and volunteer and job opportunities.


Twenty-five high school students (21 women, 4 men) were recruited, of which 19 (79%) participated in the cardiac anastomosis simulation program. On average, students improved their technical skills scores from 3.8 [SD=0.4] to 4.3 [SD= 0.36]. Twenty-one students (84%) completed the mentorship program with 5 students (20%) completing the simulation program. The students’ testimonies were very positive. One participant even enrolled in medical school overseas while four students enrolled in Canadian Bachelor of Science undergraduate programs.



This program program provided minority high school school students with clinical and surgical exposure and networking for medical career aspirants. The community of like-minded students and future surgeons still continue to support one another. Given the success of the program, it is being expanded to involve the neurosurgery and emergency medicine department. One challenge faced was enrolling more male minorities, we hope to address this through more targeted enrollment.


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