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UBC Cardiology fitness challenge raises nearly $6000 for inner-city school – UBC Faculty of Medicine – UBC Faculty of Medicine

By jwong | March 25, 2015
Cardiology residents and attendings go head-to-head at last year’s fitness challenge.
UBC Cardiology resident Amit Khosla will be the first to admit he’s not one to shy away from competition.
“As cardiologists and cardiology trainees, we are very competitive at heart,” says Dr. Kholsa.
But last spring, what started off as a friendly fitness competition between residents and attendings soon developed into a full-scale fundraising challenge — one that not only managed to elevate a few heart rates, but raise nearly $6000 for one of Vancouver’s inner-city elementary schools.
“Imagine the Olympics of cardiac rehabilitation,” says Dr. Khosla, reflecting on the half-day competition, which included everything from pushups and planks to arm wrestling and a high heel treadmill test.
And while Dr. Khosla and his fellow residents were eager to put their fitness skills (and supervisors) to the test, they also recognized that the competition was an opportunity to make a difference in their community and help out a local school in need.
So when news of the competition first broke out last spring, UBC Cardiology residents and attendings turned up their fundraising efforts. It wasn’t long before donations — and wagers — from physicians, nurses, friends and family started rolling in. By the start of the big event, hundreds of contributions, totally $5866, had been raised for East Vancouver’s Hastings Elementary School.
“Many of us grew up in and around Vancouver and have a connection to the locals schools. We thought the fitness challenge would be a great way to raise some money and give back,” recalls Dr. Khosla, who, alongside fellow residents Drs. Sina Alipour and Amelia Yip, delivered the competition proceeds to teachers and students of Hastings Elementary last month.
According to Janis Myers, the school principal, the money raised will go towards helping to fund a number of heart-healthy initiatives, such as an upcoming outdoor camp for students. The competition proceeds will also be used to purchase much-needed sporting equipment for kids to play with during their recess and lunch breaks.
“Sporting equipment, like hoops and balls — I think these are things that a lot of people probably take for granted, but not every school has the kind of money needed to replenish their supplies on a yearly basis,” says Dr. Parvathy Nair, who has been head of UBC’s Cardiology residency program since 2009.
For resident Dr. Alipour, the opportunity to meet with the elementary school students and present the cheque in person reinforced just how important it is to stay connected with the community and engage children in heart-healthy behaviours from a young age.
“It was a lot of fun to meet with the students, learn about some of their peer-led programs, and have the time to speak with them about heart health and our role as cardiologists,” says Dr. Alipour.
He adds: “Many students were interested in finding out about what it’s like to be a resident and a few even said they were interested in pursuing a career in medicine.”
Hastings Elementary School Principal Janis Myers (centre) is presented with a cheque from UBC Cardiology residents, Drs. Sina Alipour (far left), Amelia Yip (second from the right) and Amit Khosla (far right), and residency program director, Dr. Parvathy Nair (second from the left).
According to Dr. Roger Wong, Associate Dean of Postgraduate Medical Education: “Engaging UBC residents in health advocacy activities that promote the health of communities and society at large is a priority for the Postgraduate Medical Education Office.”
In fact, while last year’s fitness challenge may have been the first of its kind, UBC’s Cardiology residents are no strangers when it comes to community advocacy, thanks to the foresight of their program director, Dr. Nair.
“When I took over as the program director, I noticed that a lot of residents, like I had once been, were so consumed by the long work hours and day-to-day training that they had kind of forgotten that they have a place in the community and the world that we live in,” she says.
It was this modus operandi that inspired Dr. Nair to kick-start an annual residency-led community advocacy event. For over half a decade UBC’s Cardiology residents have thoroughly embraced and taken Dr. Nair’s idea forward, conducting outreach across the city and ultimately helping educate the public about heart healthy lifestyles.
“Even though we’re residents we’re still citizens of the city and want to be more involved,” says resident Dr. Amelia Yip.
Like her fellow residents, Drs. Khosla and Alipour, Dr. Yip hopes to see the fitness competition repeated in the years ahead. In the meantime, don’t be surprised to find these Cardiology residents doing a few push-ups in the hospital wards — as future cardiologists and competitors by heart, training for the next fitness challenge can’t start soon enough.

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