“I still feel privileged and grateful for the ability to bring life into the world by delivering babies and then having people take their last breath with you in a palliative situation. That’s powerful—capturing my mind and my spirit at the same time.”
Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh is the current President of Doctors of British Columbia. She is the first female Punjabi physician in the history of 122 years and the first in her familial lineage. She is a dedicated mother to her three daughters, who she says are her raison d’être. Besides being a family physician, hospitalist, and child youth mental health advocate, she is also an author of the children’s book entitled “Dreamland.” It is about the connection she wrote with her eldest daughter Niyah.
Dr. Dosanjh grew up in Ladner, BC, in a house that her father built when she was born. “I grew up playing many sports and was involved in many things,” she reminisces. “I was active in athletics and Martial Arts. There was a great sense of community, and the love of my extended family surrounded me. Most of my mother’s family all still live in Ladner today.”
She loves that Medicine was, still is, limitless. “There are so many things we don’t know. I was curious about the human body, anatomy, physiology, how things work was always significant to me, and the why behind things has always been important to me. My dad was an exemplary role model. He instilled discipline and embodied a growth mindset. He and I were enthusiastic about the Ladner Pioneer Library. I used to take out more books than people would think I could read, but that was my biggest fascination. The love of reading is what propelled me into lifelong learning. Growing up, my mother was sick with severe Ulcerative Colitis, and I knew there wasn’t a real cure. My dad worked at UBC, so I started going to the university libraries with him at a young age. I was even fascinated by seeing the morgue, something most kids would avoid. I always loved science, which was intriguing, and I still feel that way.”
Her biggest inspirations come from her family, colleagues, abolitionists, and revolutionists. She believes it is up to us to create the future we want, and it is for us to use our voices, privilege, and collective impact on the world that desperately needs affirmative action.
Dr. Dosanjh has held many leadership positions in Medicine. She was the secretary and President of BC Family Doctors and has been a UBC medicine clinical instructor and examiner for the Medical Council of Canada. She served four years on the White Rock South Surrey Division of Family Practice board and was the Lead Physician for Child Youth Mental Health Substance Use Collaborative.
She has a strong passion for social justice and equity and an admirable commitment to children, youth, and families. She is currently trying to influence the systems we operate in—healthcare, education, and justice sectors which she states are ready for disruption. She hopes to influence humanity by challenging the status quo, increasing awareness, and assessing the impacts of childhood trauma.
“While growing up, we had a great deal of respect and admiration for physicians in my family,” she recalls. “I know the villages where all my ancestors come from, it was a near impossible feat for women or girls to go to school, and there had never been a female physician in my lineage. Now I had all this incredible opportunity, so I got into it with marvel, wonder, and curiosity. I still feel privileged and grateful for the ability to bring life into the world by delivering babies while simultaneously having people take their last breath with you in a palliative situation. That’s powerful—it captures my mind and my spirit at the same time.”
“Challenge the norms that don’t make sense, stand up for what is right and honor your voice. Be bold. Shatter those ceilings, and don’t let your thoughts, circumstances, or disposition limit your expansion or express your most authentic self.”
She has recently partnered with the BC Law Society and Access to Justice BC in Transforming the Family Justice system. She has created the first health and justice alliance of its kind, an intersectoral allyship of doctors and lawyers.
Raised in an immigrant intergenerational household full of wisdom, philosophy, and love—she has flourished in ways most girls may not have the opportunity. She was encouraged from a young age to play sports, strive for education, and stand up against injustice.
“I remember my grandfather, who did a lot for immigrant refugee populations, and our community, telling me when I was younger that I needed to go into politics. He was a well-known connected individual who helped people change how they looked at things, and I realized it’s part of my fabric, part of my being. Political conversations invigorate me because they present learning opportunities even if they oppose my inherent beliefs. I believe despite our differences. We can come together to influence the world we live in and make a collective impact for the betterment of humanity.”
Dr. Dosanjh believes in relentless commitment to purpose through integrity, tenacity, and humility. Her personal experience and pain drive her, and it is what propels her in every aspect of her life.
Despite significant strife in her life, Dr. Dosanjh leans into her faith in God, her family’s support, and her ancestors, as they are pushing her to use her voice to speak the truth.
Another one of her passions and commitments is gender equity.
In some circumstances, we sacrifice ourselves, especially as women of color. Women have been subservient for generations, we have allowed our voices to be silenced and inequities to continue, which are often pervasive in our culture. It is time to push back. As a mother of three daughters, I am committed to gender equity, and our world needs a gentle reminder that women give us life. It is time to honor them in all places. It begins with our households, our community, and our society. When we value women and girls, the world shifts, and we see exponential growth and impact in health, education, and economics.
Her biggest inspirations come from her family, colleagues, abolitionists, and revolutionists. She believes it is up to us to create the future we want, and it is up to us to use our voices and privilege to impact our current world that desperately needs affirmative action.
Her words for the youth of today and tomorrow are: “Challenge the norms that don’t make sense, stand up for what is right and honor your voice. Be bold. Shatter those ceilings, and don’t let your thoughts, circumstances, or disposition limit your expansion or express your most authentic self. Be selective in the advice you take. Learn from mentors or role models who inspire you, not only in their talk but also in their walk.”
Life is a series of choices, Dr. Dosanjh believes. “Ensure the ones you make accurately reflect your needs and wants. Never sell yourself short or deny your spirit or voice. Make sure loving, kind, supportive voices surround you; if not, remember to be that voice for yourself. Some situations will test you in life, but your decisions are easier to live with if you are true to yourself.”