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Lieutenant Dr. Daniel Parmar works the frontlines of the pandemic and advocates for equitable health care

By Natalie Neumann Butler

Photo of Lieutenant (Lt.) Dr. Daniel Parmar


Meet Lieutenant Dr. Daniel Parmar. A 2019 Master of Education graduate from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Parmar became a resident physician for the Federal Government of Canada after graduation. And he still finds time to volunteer (virtually, from Manitoba) on the OISE Alumni Association.

We wanted to hear more about his career path which has landed him at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You are a Commissioned Officer with the Department of National Defence in Canada. How did you arrive there?

After completing my MEd with OISE's department of leadership, higher and adult education in health professional education in 2019 – I was subsequently matched to the Family Medicine program at University of Manitoba. At the same time, I was selected by the Canadian Armed Forces army division for their prestigious Medical Officer Training Program while being appointed as a Commissioned Officer at the rank of Lieutenant. Following completion of training, I will serve as a Medical Officer for Canada, serving not only the men and women of the armed forces but also Canadians and international communities at-large.

A fascinating career, thank you for your service. What drew you to pursue the fields of medical education and military service?

It's certainly been an interesting journey. First and foremost, military service has run through my family for over four generations with my great grandfather, Mustaan Singh Parmar, fighting in the Great War as one of the British Sikh Infantry soldiers.  

That legacy, heroism, service, and sense of duty at a time of global unrest was something I valued and admired growing up as a first generation Canadian. In many ways, my desire for medicine and healthcare mirrored many of those same feelings – being able to provide fair and equitable healthcare to both Canadians and newcomers, providing a sense of service to marginalized communities, and advocating for both patients' and their respective community’s health outcomes.

"That legacy, heroism, service, and sense of duty at a time of global unrest was something I valued and admired growing up as a first generation Canadian"

The Canadian Armed Forces has provided an ideal scenario for me to fulfill these goals and provide effective patient care, advocacy, and security to both Canadians and those abroad.  

And what is most rewarding about this work? Certainly COVID-19 has presented immense challenges...

Actually, one of the most rewarding aspects is the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to work on the frontlines during the pandemic. My experiences have allowed me to demonstrate and exemplify both leadership in healthcare and education by working and coordinating patient care with various services and interdisciplinary health teams during COVID-19.

"Being able to play a critical role both as an advocate for my patients, particularly newly emigrated families, and seeing positive outcomes has truly felt like a success"

During these unprecedented times, I’ve had the ability to help many different patients from a myriad of communities and ethnocultural backgrounds. One of my toughest challenges has been working with newly emigrated South Asian families to Canada who come to the West for a better life but unfortunately become victims of border closures while dealing with complex medical challenges. I was happy to write letters on behalf of my patients to expedite the immigration process for their spouses or families so that they could reunite here in Manitoba during these tough times.

Being able to play a critical role both as an advocate for my patients, particularly newly emigrated families, and seeing positive outcomes has truly felt like a success.  

In what way does your health professional education degree help you today?

My experiences at the Institute, including my OISE degree, allowed me to participate in future-driven conversations with both faculty and staff. Particularly, given the strong emphasis on competency-based education, I was able to explore how we, as healthcare professionals, can better engage and teach healthcare learners and equip them with a strong foundation of both knowledge capital and skillsets. This has been very valuable to me.

Who influenced and guided you during these studies?

During my time at OISE, I had the distinct pleasure of working and learning from amazing thought-provokers, leaders, and academics. I was greatly inspired by profs. Leesa Wheelahan and Linda Muzzin for their work and insights on the impact of higher education in the professions, including how dynamic processes such as internationalization, globalization, and social and professional barriers (both historically and presently) have influenced higher education, the regulated professions, and of course the health profession throughout its history. 

Prof. Jamie Magnusson was also a strong influence in advocating for marginalized and disenfranchised communities across not only the city of Toronto but extrapolating across the nation – inner-city, urban, and LGBTQ+ communities.

These three amazing female leaders were instrumental in helping shape my journey at OISE. I will always be thankful for their contributions.

What would you say to OISE students to help them excel after graduation?

The best chance you have to rise to the top is to always find motivation, engage with an open mindset, fear nothing, and work hard. For OISE students, recognize that life is based less on all that you’ve learned and much more on what you have had inside you right from the beginning. 

There are infinite ways you can contribute to education and beyond. Recognize your true potential, and you will see that the possibilities are endless.


With OISE I Can...

"Be a Canadian and global leader for the next generation to help shape the future of healthcare and higher education!"

Daniel Parmar is a volunteer member of the OISE Alumni Association. Want to connect with him? Join Daniel on LinkedIn.