Dr. Azim Gangji: 2021 Program Director of the Year Award recipient
Azim Gangji, MD, MSc, Pharm, FRCPC, FACP is the Program Director of Nephrology at McMaster University. Without a doubt, the program has achieved much of its success because of the energy and countless hours Dr. Gangji has invested in shaping the curriculum.
An extraordinary mentor
Education can be a job or a calling; in Dr. Gangji’s case, being an educator is clearly a calling. His colleagues say that his success with the Nephrology program comes down to two key attributes: Dr. Gangji genuinely cares about his trainees and he is constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation.
Dr. Gangji is the kind of mentor who can consistently be heard saying “being a program director is the best job I have.” His actions continually demonstrate that sentiment. Despite a busy schedule, he has a talent for making residents feel that they are his number one priority. He makes time for them at all hours, often working late into the evening to discuss rotation planning, career planning and his residents’ well-being.
Dr. Gangji is well-known for crafting fellowships for residents who need them. He has created a one-year Geriatric Nephrology fellowship program at McMaster, an American Society of Transplant accredited Renal Transplant fellowship, a Glomerulonephritis fellowship, and a Home Dialysis fellowship. He is known for tailoring his international residents’ curriculum so they gain the specific skills they need to bring back to their home countries. He even finds jobs for his international residents’ spouses so they can be together during training!
Pushing the boundaries of innovation
Despite running a Nephrology program that is already among Canada’s best, Dr. Gangji continues to innovate and improve it. Over just the past two years, he has developed:
- a nephrology-palliative care curriculum (the first of its kind in Canada)
- a longitudinal nephro-pathology curriculum (also the first of its kind)
- a renewed dialysis curriculum with opportunities for residents to be junior attending for vascular issues and participate in various home-dialysis learning activities
- a Nephrology research grant
- Resident awards to acknowledge resident contributions and celebrate their successes
When residents’ lives were unexpectedly disrupted by the pandemic, their education was not. Dr. Gangji ensured that academic half-days were transitioned into virtual sessions, and even OSCEs continued in a virtual format.
His colleagues expressed their profound sadness when Dr. Gangji announced he would be stepping down as Program Director in 2021. As they put it, “He has been more than a program director to us. He is our mentor, our guide and a true role model.”