A passion for giving

February 20, 2015

 

Calgary retinal specialist, Dr. Chirag Shah embraces opportunities to help.

I’m from Gandhi’s home state and it was always understood that when you are given something, you give back. That’s what I try to do. And the chance to make a difference in someone’s life is the most satisfying thing in the world.

When Dr. Chirag Shah immigrated to Canada from India in 2005, drawn by the opportunity to complete a fellowship with cataract surgery pioneer Dr. Howard Gimbel, he arrived knowing no one.

“I was completely alone,” he recalls “Being away from family and friends is difficult and the licensing process for international medical graduates is very hard.”

Today, Dr. Shah is a highly regarded retinal specialist and an active volunteer, who has never forgotten his struggles as a young doctor new to Canada. It was that experience that inspired him to establish a scholarship for international medical graduates.

“I wanted to help support people in that process because I remember how difficult it was,” explains Dr. Shah. “There are so many expenses involved in becoming a physician, and for international students, the financial burden is that much more.”

Dr. Shah's two, $2000 annual scholarships at the University of Calgary (U of C) are intended to help internationally trained medical graduates with fees associated with writing tests and the sometimes challenging licensing process.

In addition to the scholarships at the U of C, Dr. Shah also funds two, $350 annual scholarships at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology for students in the public health and safety program and a $1500 annual youth scholarship through Calgary Immigrant Services.

“Education, health and recent immigrants are my passions and I try to support those areas wherever I can.”

He also gives back to his profession, completing medical journal reviews and volunteering as an examiner for both the Medical Council of Canada and the U of C. Dr. Shah is a volunteer surgeon with India’s Blind People’s Association and helped the association raise more than $30,000 to purchase equipment to complete a retinal unit at Bareja General Hospital. And closer to home, you can find Dr. Shah serving meals to the homeless as a volunteer at Calgary’s Drop-in Centre.

Although his volunteer efforts have been officially recognized, including Calgary Immigrant Services’ 2011 Distinguished Professional Award and last September, a “This Week’s Inspiring Albertan” tribute from CTV Calgary News, it’s the opportunity to help others that drives Dr. Shah to do what he does.

“I’m from Gandhi’s home state and it was always understood that when you are given something, you give back. That’s what I try to do. And the chance to make a difference in someone’s life is the most satisfying thing in the world.”

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