Nov. 5, 2019

Aleem Bharwani

Educator, thought leader and community builder

When we reflect on a favourite educator, most of us think back to someone delivering lectures at a podium or other formal forms of instruction. Dr. Aleem Bharwani, PGME’08, views the role of an educator differently, with the lines blurring between education and citizenship.

“What makes us a citizen? Whether we realize it or not, we are citizens in our digital communities, workplaces and neighbourhoods as well as our city, province or country,” says Bharwani.

“Our actions influence others and the actions of others influence us. We coexist in a manner that binds our shared fates,” he says.

Bharwani is the winner of the 2019 Cumming School of Medicine Alumnus of Distinction Award for Excellence in Education. He’s clearly a gifted lecturer, winning numerous teaching awards since 2008 for his work at the Cumming School of Medicine including Gold Stars, the Students Teaching Excellence Award, the Silver Tongue Teaching Award and the Benevolent Heart Award. He has also been recognized nationally for mentorship by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and internationally by the American College of Physicians and Society of General Internal Medicine.

Much of what Bharwani is passionate about transcends the traditional task of delivering a curriculum to students. He promotes a culture of global citizenship among residents and encourages each person to embrace the principles of humility, empathy, respect for differences and curiosity.  
His efforts are clearly resonating. At an event honouring Bharwani, his mentee Rahul Arora, BHSc’19, described Bharwani’s role in the faculty.  

“Compassion builds trust. When we trust ourselves we find stillness. And in that peace we rediscover our ability to create, take risks and think big.” 

His efforts are clearly resonating. At an event honouring Bharwani, his mentee Rahul Arora, BHSc’19, described Bharwani’s role in the faculty.  

“What you have built in the medical school is a community of young researchers, physicians and alumni that care about important things,” Arora says. “About things like health policy, artificial intelligence, institutionalized strategy and gender equity. By fostering this community, you are not only encouraging the success of these students individually but of our institution as a whole.”

Bharwani’s approach has also earned the respect of his peers. “He is a thought leader for our team, challenging all of us to embrace the role we have of influencing policy across the institution and our community,” says Dr. Jennifer Hatfield, PhD’01, former associate dean of Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement.

For Bharwani, the mission to impact and strengthen his community is just getting started. In his remarks while accepting the alumni award, Bharwani set his sights on elevating what he called academic diplomacy to “promote knowledge, respect and truth in dialogues relating to health and social policies.”

“The need for this is particularly apparent in a world where the media landscape has shifted so dramatically that there is nobody but public universities to step in as honest brokers, among citizens, scholars and government,” says Dr. Bharwani. 

“The purpose of alumni is not merely parchment solidarity, but rather to transmit wisdom from community. To convey urgency when necessary and to activate and be activated on matters of import.” 
 

Dr. Aleem Bharwani, MD, is the director for Public Policy and Strategic Partnerships at CSM and policy lead for the O’Brien Institute for Public Health. He is also a clinical associate professor in the Department of Medicine.

The CSM’s Alumni of Distinction Awards will be presented in May 2020. 
Visit cumming.ucalgary.ca/alumni/awards