Abraham Nunes

Top 40 Under 40 2013

Photography Curtis Trent

Age: 26

Job Title: MD/MBA Student at the University of Alberta and Co-founder of Care-Q

Why He’s Top 40: He’s making it easier for Canadians to navigate the health care system.

What Do You Like Most About Edmonton?: “I love the entrepreneurial spirit of the people here. They’re creating valuable things for other people. There’s never a month or a summer that goes by where someone doesn’t have a creative idea.”

Abraham Nunes is notorious among his friends for not returning texts. He’s not much for phone calls, either. That’s because the 26-year-old entrepreneur and soon-to-be doctor prefers to do everything in person, from checking in on patients to going to the bank.

His passion for face time has served him well. In his first year of medical school at the University of Alberta, Nunes took to hanging around the operating room watching transplant surgeries instead of attending lectures. Though, he still studied incredibly hard while not in the surgery room.

Eventually, the surgeons started letting him do more than watch. “At first, they let me cut some knots. Then, after a while, they let me tie some knots,” says Nunes, smiling at the memory.

Before long, Nunes was going along on organ retrievals, to places as far flung as California and small towns in Quebec.

In 2011, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society awarded him its Have a Heart bursary for future leaders in the cardiac sciences.

Nunes toyed with the idea of becoming a surgeon, but decided to become a psychiatrist after meeting psychiatric patients on his rotation.

“I found I really cared about those patients. They’re vulnerable – mental illness is under-recognized and there is a stigma around it,” he says. “In psychiatry, there’s still a lot to be discovered. Mental-health therapy is underdeveloped relative to other medical specialties.”

He draws inspiration from his wife, Sarah, a registered psychologist, who he followed to Edmonton from Ontario, where he grew up in a family of hard-working Portuguese immigrants.

Nunes, who’s doing his MBA at the U of A, along with his MD, is committed to making the medical system work better.

Care-Q, a company he co-founded last year, is on the verge of its first offering, a website to help Canadians simply navigate the medical system more efficiently.

During a year as vice-president of finance for the U of A’s Medical Students’ Association, Nunes focused on sponsorship – something he believes is the wave of the future as universities stagger under government cutbacks.

“Business is not really the enemy – you can actually partner with them,” he says.

In his free time – though there’s not much of it – Nunes designed an iPhone app, MedFlash Psychiatry, which includes more than 1,000 flash-card style questions he wrote to help him and his colleagues through their psychiatry rotations and other mental-health aspects of their practices.

“Most of the things I get into are things I’m passionate about. These things are how I play.”

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