Inspiring Change: Dr. Ullanda Niel’s Commitment to Accessible and Inclusive Healthcare

In honor of Neurodiversity Week and International Women's Day, this month, we are excited to spotlight Dr. Ullanda Niel, a dedicated family physician whose compassionate work represents the essence of these celebrations. Dr. Niel's journey into medicine, shaped by her childhood dreams and experiences, has led her to specialize in caring for individuals with intellectual disabilities, including her contributions to the Black community's healthcare.

“I think I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” is Dr. Ullanda Niel’s responses thoughtfully when she is asked about her journey into medicine. This simple yet profound statement encapsulates the essence of her lifelong dedication to healing and helping others.

From her earliest days, Dr. Niel felt drawn to those often overlooked by society, finding joy and fulfillment in sharing time with them. “I always had an interest in spending time with people with intellectual disabilities,” she recalls, reflecting on her experiences as a respite worker during elementary school. Through this role, she gained firsthand insight into the joys and challenges of daily life for individuals with intellectual disabilities and the daily realities for their families.

These experiences greatly influenced Dr. Niel, helping her realize the significance of holistic family-centered care. “Focusing only on the child, we miss a lot of really important things that could be helpful to the family,” she reflects. “This is why, it is important that clinicians promote health and resilience within their communities by first taking care of the caregivers.” This realization guided her decision to specialize in family medicine, recognizing the connection between health, family dynamics, and societal influences.

As Dr. Niel pursued her education, her commitment to serving vulnerable populations only grew stronger. She studied life sciences at Queen’s University before earning her medical degree in Albany, New York. Upon completing her studies, Dr. Niel returned to Canada to specialize in family medicine at Queen’s University.

Driven by her passion for inclusivity and accessibility in healthcare, Dr. Niel has also led various initiatives aimed at addressing disparities within marginalized communities. For example, she and other colleagues are developing a Black-focused acceptance and commitment training program for Black patients. She aspires to create inclusive spaces where patients feel heard, understood, and empowered in their healthcare journey when conversing with healthcare providers. “This type of program will allow people from the Black community to express themselves in their own way and feel more comfortable with clinicians that understand their background.”

But Dr. Niel’s journey is not solely defined by her professional achievements; she is equally dedicated to self-care and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. By structuring her workday to increase efficiency and completing tasks promptly, she ensures that she can prioritize family time and pursue her passions outside of medicine.

Dr. Ullanda Niel’s beautiful creations.

As a mother of three young children, she finds joy in the simple pleasures of life such as baking elaborate and delicious birthday cakes, gardening, attending soccer practice, and nurturing her children’s passions and dreams.

For Dr. Niel, success is an ongoing pursuit fueled by curiosity and a relentless drive to make a difference. As she continues to evolve in her career, she remains committed to advocating for equitable healthcare practices that uplift all individuals, regardless of their background or abilities.

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