In the quiet confines of her Sudbury home, retired paediatrician, Dr. Remi Ogundimu warmly reflects on a journey that spans over four decades in the field of medicine. Growing up in a family of legal professionals, educators, and agriculture experts, Dr. Ogundimu was drawn to healthcare by the thought of making an impact differently and saving lives. After graduating from the University College Hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria, she pursued her passion for healthcare, completing her residency in paediatrics at Dalhousie University in Canada in 1983.
Dr. Ogundimu served as an outstanding paediatrician in Greater Sudbury, earning several accolades, including an Honorary Doctorate from Huntington University, Canada’s inaugural 100 Accomplished Black Women Award, and being named BPW Greater Sudbury’s Woman of the Month in 2018. She was also appointed the first (female) president of the Canadian Association of Nigerian Physicians and Surgeons.
Even after her retirement in 2017, Dr. Ogundimu remains an advocate for collective efforts in healthcare and addressing health disparities. She emphasized the need for a societal shift towards embracing multiculturalism as a strength, creating opportunities for all, and proactively addressing societal issues for a fair and inclusive environment.
“The pandemic taught us a big lesson on working together regardless of colour or background. We need to move beyond the mindset of only seeking assistance when needed and instead focus on creating equal opportunities for everyone willing to contribute positively to the community, regardless of their origin. This mindset shift will not only enhance the healthcare system but contribute to the overall progress of the country.”
In addressing health disparities, Dr. Ogundimu applauds organizations like the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario (BPAO) and the Black Physicians of Canada (BPC) who are actively advocating for a focus on qualifications and merit to ensure individuals are not left behind due to their race. Reflecting on her own experiences during residency, she underscores the impact of perseverance, support, collaboration, and creating an environment based on capabilities rather than biases.
Currently, Dr. Ogundimu is involved in planning for the Black History Month Gala with The Afro-Heritage Association of Sudbury, scheduled for February 3rd, 2024. As a founding member and board member, she offers support and guidance to the new executive team, ensuring a successful event and a smooth transition for the new leadership. She remains active in the Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association as well, where she was a former president.
Her advice to upcoming physicians is to cultivate patience, develop a keen listening ear, and remain vigilant. In the face of challenges or criticisms, take a deep breath, assess the situation, and consider the intent behind the feedback.
“Dealing with pompous attitudes in medicine can be challenging, but remember that It’s crucial to prioritize patient outcomes over personal reputations so collaboration is key. Work as a team, share information with colleagues and seek their input. Medicine is a collaborative field, and achieving the best results for patients requires effective teamwork.”
Dr. Ogundimu’s career has been a testament to resilience, mentorship, and a commitment to community well-being. As we celebrate her contributions, we are reminded that the pursuit of a better, more equitable healthcare future requires collective commitment and an unwavering dedication to fairness and equality.