McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Divorced with three children at 25, now Amy becomes a doctor

By Suzanne Morrison
Published: May 20, 2011
Amy Montour
Amy Montour, a graduate of McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine
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Amy Montour is on a mission to encourage Aboriginal students to get an education and never give up on themselves.

On Friday, May 20 Montour will graduate from McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine with 179 fellow new physicians. The ceremony will see the graduation of 352 students from Faculty of Health Sciences programs including midwifery and Bachelor of Health Science.

"I have almost a burden to encourage young mothers and young people to just keep going," she said. "And if you fall down, and you make mistakes, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get going. You don't give up."

A member of the Six Nations community, Montour is aware of the high dropout rate among Aboriginal students as she was one of the statistics. A high school dropout herself, she married and divorced twice while still young. At 25, she found herself with three children, no education and no money to look after them.

She decided she had enough. The first thing she did was get her high school equivalency, then spent a year at Six Nations Polytechnic in a course called pre-health sciences, obtaining the necessary requirements for university.

She went on to both bachelor and master degrees in nursing at McMaster, then entered the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine after encouragement from nursing professor Dr. Cottie Ofosu, who was aware of the shortage of Aboriginal doctors. Now 36, Montour is the second oldest student in her graduating class.

Montour will receive her medical degree during convocation ceremonies at Hamilton Place. Throughout medical school, her parents were her rock, financially and emotionally, she said. "I feel when I walk across that stage that it is really for them. It's like saying 'I'm sorry and here I have made it up to you.'"

Jack Gualdie
Jack Gauldie, professor emeritus of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine
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In July Montour begins the two-year family medicine residency program at McMaster, possibly spending an additional year in emergency medicine. Her plans are to eventually work as a family doctor on the Six Nations Reserve, specializing in care of the elderly. She is currently a member of the Aboriginal Hospice Palliative Care Services Committee for the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network.

Because McMaster welcomes mature students, Montour said her age wasn't a barrier to making good friends with younger students. "It wasn't really a problem except that they were closer to their science backgrounds than I was," she said. "I learned a lot, even about being a mother and how to interact with a younger generation. I met a lot of people with really good hearts who only want to be good doctors."

Montour said her nursing background has had a "huge impact" on her as a doctor, recalling the night she spent holding the hand of a dying 100-year-old woman. No one around her understood why she was doing that, suggesting she would be better off sleeping.

Also at the Friday convocation, Jack Gauldie, Distinguished University Professor at McMaster University and professor emeritus of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Raised in Hamilton, Gauldie is recognized as a pioneer in gene therapeutics and an international expert in the molecular regulation of inflammation and immunity. He is co-founder of McMaster's Centre for Gene Therapeutics, founding director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Health and inaugural holder of the John Bienenstock Chair in Molecular Medicine.


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