Josh Fanaeian wanted to be a physician ever since he was in high school, but it was his childhood trips to visit his grandparents in the Philippines that inspired him to take his work abroad.
“Many of us in Canada were born under very fortunate circumstances, and my parents are both immigrants, and I’ve seen how things are elsewhere,” says Fanaeian. “Just by luck of the draw, I ended up where I am, so I’ve always felt it is my duty to do a bit more.”
Fanaeian took his expertise to Iraq as part of Doctors Without Borders, where he was placed in an area heavily impacted by the war against ISIS. The field mission was challenging, but the most impactful part was the shift in perspective Fanaeian gained.
“People have very different lived experiences, and there are ways I can still try to connect with them and show compassion and empathy,” says Fanaeian.
Back in Edmonton, Fanaeian continued working with colleagues to create a treatment protocol for people suffering from opioid use disorder. Previously, ERs were not able to promptly access the necessary resources for the ongoing treatment of opioid overdoses. Three years later, the treatment protocol is the standard in emergency rooms across Alberta.
“If a patient comes in and, for example, they overdosed or they are withdrawing from opioids — now physicians have this tool that they can use where patients can get next day access to opioids,” says Fanaeian. “I’m really proud of that.”