Our Campus: Medical student and First Nations mental health advocate Darcy Good embodies his name

Getting into medical school is no easy feat, let alone at UBC, one of the top schools in Canada — but for Darcy Good, there was an extra reason to celebrate this accomplishment.

Good is the first member of his community, Snuneymuxw, located near Nanaimo, BC, to be admitted to medical school where he has recently been “matched” with the psychiatry residency program at UBC — his first choice.

“Mental health is something I’m very passionate about so I’m really excited,” said Good. “My main goal throughout my residency is to attempt to get more exposure to positions that I’ve been working with in First Nations communities.”

But for Good, his interest in medicine started long before university was even on his radar.

“When I was 12 or 13 … I had a really difficult year with my family. There were several deaths [and] at that time there was a lot going on with my siblings and my stepfather had a minor heart attack,” he said. “His ICU doctor was one of my friend’s dads, so he took the time to pull me aside and say, ‘You know what, I’m not going to let your father die.’ And after my stepdad pulled through ... I realized what impact saving one life can have, which is what inspired me to pursue medicine.”

Outside of his academic career, Good embodies his name — building kindergarten classrooms in Peru and Nicaragua, networking with different doctors to bring outpatient mental health services into various health centres in BC and encouraging the people he works with to live the most active and healthy lives possible.

Despite being a busy fourth-year medical student, Good wants people to know that he’s also a “big fan of sleep.”

“It’s probably one of my greatest hobbies,” said Good. “I do have a lot of time where I have to be studying, so I definitely like to be a more relaxed type of person.”

After having a run-in with a “dark spot” on his neck in Grade 12, Good reached the conclusion that he wasn’t going to have much legitimacy with his patients if he wasn’t taking care of his own health. So he switched from a sedentary lifestyle to a very active one — and lost 115 pounds in 10 months.

“I think it’s really important to reflect upon how you treat your own body when you’re going to tell people how to treat their own body and taking medications a certain way,” he said.

Although, Good takes physical wellbeing very seriously, he highlights that the stigmas surrounding mental health — especially in First Nations communities — are very prevalent in today’s society.

“I got to do an elective with a doctor who works in the Fraser Health Authority,” he said. “He’s delivering outpatient mental health services directly in their health centres and not only does it make it more accessible, but I think it makes it more comfortable that you don’t have to bring people an hour or two just to see a physician outside the hospital.

“They can get it right in the community where they are feeling safe.”

The goal of giving back to his community is rooted in the close-knit environment that he grew up in. When Good was originally accepted into medical school four years ago, he couldn’t believe that he actually accomplished this feat — and almost no one even knew he had applied.

“I tried to keep it a little bit quiet, that [medical school] was my goal but obviously my mom and close family knew,” he said. “I tried to keep it quiet because there was no guarantee that it was going to happen. When I first started, my community held this big celebration where we all came together.”

Good said he felt a lot of pressure during the celebration that the community hosted for him because everyone was expecting him to succeed and bring his newfound expertise back to Vancouver Island. However, he believes that if he were to ever find a new career path or decide not to pursue medicine, his community would be just as proud of him.

“There’s always these great expectations for what I’m going to accomplish and for what I’m going to bring back,” he said, “but I think that when reflecting upon it, I really realize that people don’t have expectations of me — they just have this great pride for me and they just want to see me succeed.”