Women Leaders in Emergency Medicine

The  Women in Emergency Medicine Committee will feature interviews with a number of leaders in Emergency Medicine. New profiles will be added monthly.

Featured Interview of the Month

Submitted by Marika Moskalyk December 15, 2021

Tell me about how you fell into a career in Emergency Medicine.

Absolutely–so prior to coming to medical school, I did a Masters in Cancer Biology and I came in thinking maybe I’d be an oncologist. One of my clinical skills instructors at Queen’s was an Emergency Physician and said, “Why don’t you come down and hang out in the ED and see if you like it.” So I shadowed him for a couple of shifts, and then I just never left! Basically, it felt like the place to be and it fit with all the places and things I like to do and I am interested in. So if it was not for my awesome clinical skills instructor in first year medical school, I don’t know where I would have ended up!

Can you describe your work as Medical Director of Sexual Assault and partner Abuse Care program? How did you first cultivate your interest in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)?

This interest came to light in residency. I did my residency at Queen’s University and at the time they were in the process of setting up their Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Program within their ED. It was very interesting for me to see how the forensic and medical world came together and had the ability to work in concert while still being very separate entities. While I was in residency, the chief coroner for Eastern Ontario at the time was an EM physician and gave a presentation at rounds. I found it quite interesting and decided to organize some elective time with him in the coroner service in Kingston. It was then that I found my niche in forensics. When I graduated from residency and came to Ottawa for my staff position, I had completed my fellowship in clinical Forensic Medicine and one third of my course work was in adult sexual assault. So, when I came to Ottawa, I told our site chief, who is now our department chair, that I was very interested in becoming the medical director for the program. He said,  “it’s yours!” At that point, I took it over pretty much instantaneously on landing in Ottawa.

My role in the program, like many other medical directors across the province, is that I help manage the medical and forensic care for patients who are survivors of sexual assault, IPV and human trafficking. This includes medical assessment for injuries, prophylactic treatment against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections as well as evaluation of special circumstances like strangulation. There is also a forensic piece should someone choose to proceed with that, which includes sexual assault evidence collection, photo documentation of injuries and liaising with police and other members of the justice system. We also are involved in the emotional and safety aspect for survivors. This includes crisis management and counselling and even providing practical support on how to get your locks changed, where a safe place is to go for the night, replacing damaged cellphones, and really just helping people get back on their feet. We also do educational sessions for nursing, social work, medical students, residents, staff physician groups across Ottawa and the province. I have also done some educational sessions within the crown prosecutors in the justice system, which involved talking about the medical aspect of this and how to interpret some of the evidence that they may be presented. I also do lots of research as a part of this, looking into different kinds of topics within sexual assault and IPV. A big focus recently has been the effect of the COVID pandemic and how that’s affected this particular subset of patients.

How has your work in IPV and sexual assault changed the way you practice EM?

I am a lot more suspicious for sexual assault and IPV coming into ED. Research has shown that we are the port in the storm–We are the people that are seeing these patients first. Many people think that sexual assault and IPV victims come in with obvious bruising or head injuries, but in reality, it is often much more subtle than this. This often looks like multiple ED visits for chronic illnesses, where no “cause” is found. I always tend to ask patients a lot more about their home situation and relationship as well as their safety. If you don’t ask, you won’t ever know, and often patients won’t freely disclose this unless specifically asked. My work in IPV and sexual assault has made me more cautious when chalking up presentations to “accidents”– not everyone is clumsy, not everybody fell down the stairs, so I try to make it a habit of asking everyone that comes in, that “fell down the stairs,” whether they feel safe at home, that kind of thing.

How do you feel EDs can better support survivors of sexual assault and how can CAEP and WEM best support this?

I think recognition of the fact that these are our patients, and that sexual assault and IPV is disturbingly common. The prevalence of sexual assault lifetime in Canada is 1 in 3. Believe it or not, it is more common than MIs, hypertension, almost all cancers. We tend to think of it as this “other” thing that isn’t’ something we see within the ED. Additionally, making asking patients about their safety at home and if they have been victimized a normalized part of our practice. It should be the same way that we ask about allergies, their medical and family history. Lastly, cultivating a good relationship with specialized treatment programs such that you know your community’s resources and how to manage these patients. Having a strong liaison with a treatment program to ensure these patients get the best possible care is so critical.

I’m going to transition a little bit more to questions about your career in a broader sense. How do you feel like gender has affected your own career development? Has it impacted your career growth in any way?

Oh yeah. I think most people would say that gender and also being from an underrepresented group make for a bigger hill to climb. I think for myself personally, functioning within the ED is different as a female than it is a male. That’s been proven time and time again. It’s harder to get funded for research as a female, for example. I also think the metrics that are used for career advancement within medicine are metrics that were put into place a long time ago that are no longer necessarily applicable. Traditionally, they have someone at home that is managing their life outside of medicine, whether it is doing their laundry or making dinner or taking care of family responsibilities. All of that is taken care of for them so they tend to work a lot, often in roles that are more easily recognized for promotion. A lot of us don’t fit that mould even if we have amazingly wonderfully supportive partners. The academic promotion has not recognized that at all and I think women are hampered by that in general.

What of your many career accomplishments are you most proud of?

Oh that’s a hard one. There are a couple of things. I have had the honour to be the first woman that has been part of our departmental executive committee which makes a lot of important decisions for the function of our department. To be the first women to break through and be part of that big decision-making group was a very big deal and I was very proud of that. I would say one of the other big career milestones and achievements that I am very proud of is that I was afforded the CAEP Dr. Alan Drummond Advocacy Award in 2016. It was nice to be acknowledged by a big body like CAEP for advocacy work because advocates are not always recognized in their time and efforts. I was very proud of that!

Did you have a mentor in your life that you looked up to during your training or even now?

I have been fortunate enough to work alongside many incredible EM physicians, many of which are women. The original clinical skills teacher that got me into EM in the first place is Dr. Bob McGraw out of Queen’s and he is amazing. He is responsible for me being here, so I very much appreciate him. And then closer to Ottawa, one of my good friends and mentors is Dr. Lisa Calder, who is an EM physician and now the CEO of the CMPA, which is a vastly amazing achievement. This isn’t surprising because she is an unbelievably amazing person and so it has been very interesting to see what she can build within an EM career that is a little bit outside of the stereotypical grinded out see tons of patient kind of career path that a lot of people take.

What advice do you have for women entering the field of EM?

It is a hell of a ride and this is the kind of job that never ceases to surprise you. It is never a job that is boring, and it can be really challenging at times. It is important that you believe you are good enough and meant for this career, you belong there, and be willing to take the space that you need and carve out the career that you want. The nice thing about EM is that it is so broad and flexible that you can really make it what you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be somebody’s vision of what the future of your career should look like, it really should be something in tune with you and your priorities and your interests. Because there is no shortage of patients and no shortage of areas to be interested in, we’re kind of like a patchwork quilt, all of us kind of touch up against each other and once you find your space and fill it, and you can thrive from there!

Rural Emergency Medicine with Dr. Aimee Kernick

Dr. Aimee Kernick is an Emergency Physician that practices throughout rural Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. She completed her medical degree at the University of British Columbia’s Island Medical Program, her Rural Family Medicine residency at McMaster University in Owen Sound, ON and her EM year at Memorial University. She is originally from Canmore, Alberta.

The WEM committee reached Dr. Kernick in Inuvik, NWT to talk all things rural medicine.

Submitted by Marika Moskalyk February 25, 2021

Why did you choose to pursue a career in Emergency Medicine and why the CCFP-EM route? Did you always know that you wanted to practice rural medicine?

I initially went into medicine with an interest in Global Health and Humanitarian work. Early in medical school, I had experiences in both rural Kenya and rural Canada and realized I did not need to look beyond our borders to see disparities and areas of great need. This shifted my career focus to rural Canada. I was also drawn to the appeal of generalism – knowing a little about everything so that I could help patients with a variety of presentations.

Early on in my training, I started shadowing in Emergency Medicine and discovered that of all the specialties, this one really captivated me the most. Especially with my goal to work in underserved areas, I knew that having the skills to stabilize a critically ill patient would be an asset. I chose to do the CCFP-EM route because I enjoy both specialties and want to provide skilled generalist care to rural and remote areas. In places with limited physician coverage, it is important to be able to offer a range of services and wear many hats. This training route allowed me to have a good breadth of knowledge and skills well-suited to these environments.

I graduated from the CCFP-EM program at Memorial in 2019, and since then I’ve locumed in Owen Sound and Wiarton, ON, Canmore and Banff, AB, Saanich Peninsula, BC, and Inuvik, NWT. I also chair the Rural, Remote and Small Urban Section of CAEP, and am a member of the scientific planning committee of “Rural and Remote Resuscitation Rounds” – a CPD program offering simulation training for rural physicians.

Can you speak about some of your first-hand experiences practicing in resource-limited settings that are unique to small urban and rural communities?

The key concept is “Resource-limited” – limitations in human resources (such as physicians, nurses, lab/imaging technicians, paramedics, pilots), medical supplies, medications, blood products, physical space, access to imaging, access to specialists… the list is really endless.

Whenever we work in these areas, there are extra considerations that go into each treatment decision. We know what the gold standard for treating this patient is in a tertiary center but may not have access to that treatment here. Clinical decision rules might suggest imaging is necessary for a patient, but there is no pilot or transport crew available to take them for the test. We are often left managing sick patients for longer in our under-resourced setting and making difficult triage decisions for the resources we do have. Sometimes we have to get creative with our supplies.

How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting rural communities and emergency care differently than urban centres?

Rural communities are already coming from a place of relative disparity, so the pandemic definitely poses a real threat to overwhelming the limited resources. I think one of the biggest concerns is related to lack of human resources, in the sense that if you already have very few healthcare workers in a community, if an outbreak were to happen, it could increase strain on an already strained system.

Resources such as ventilators and ICU beds are even more limited in rural and remote areas, and vaccine rollout is taking longer to reach them. In some places the remoteness of a community could prove protective in keeping travel and subsequent COVID-19 cases down, but an outbreak in these areas would be doubly devastating if it were to occur. In many of our Indigenous communities there are a large number of family members in one household, and outbreaks can spread quickly. We need to consider some of these socio-economic factors and health human resource limitations in vaccine prioritization.

How have you managed balancing your personal life with extensive travelling to locum?

When you start off as a rural locum, a lot of us don’t really have a home base. Many people I meet in these communities will have a vehicle, a storage locker (or a parent’s garage) where they store their belongings while they are on the road. I’m now a bit more settled in BC, with my primary home base at Saanich Peninsula Hospital on Vancouver Island. I’m finding it’s getting a bit harder to make the frequent moves for these locums, although I love this part of my work and I hope to always keep this as part of my practice.

The year I graduated, one of my dreams was to get a sprinter van and build it out to travel around for all these locums. The van hasn’t happened yet– I’ve always had four walls around me, but hopefully someday!

Can you speak about your role as Chair of the Rural, Remote and Small Urban Section committee and the work your group does?

I recently stepped into this position in September and the group has lots of amazing ideas. One of the biggest and most pressing issues our group has been advocating for is the recent changes to the CCFP-EM exam for the practice eligible route. The criteria changes were felt by the rural community to be exclusive, for example the requirement for advanced imaging on site. We are currently working hard with other stakeholders to reevaluate those and find more inclusive criteria. One of our other goals is to create more accessible rural CPD programs to help train and support rural physicians to gain the competencies that they need.

What is CAEP’s role in actively supporting rural emergency medicine nationally?

I’ve been very impressed with the CAEP board and their support of our rural section. They are constantly listening to our concerns and helping with our advocacy efforts. I think as the national organization for Emergency Medicine, CAEP definitely has a responsibility to all Canadian physicians practicing in the field.

While not every rural generalist will identify as an “emergency physician”, they all want to provide the best emergency care possible to their communities. As an organization, we can support rural physicians through advocacy, and opportunities for education, research and leadership. It’s important that we view everyone as part of one national EM community, not just physicians who have a CCFP-EM or FRCPC title. To advance the field, we need to all advance together.

Who have been some of your greatest mentors?

It’s difficult to choose just one or even a handful of people. Through my training experiences across the country, I have met so many wonderful people that have guided me. If I had to choose, it would actually be a community, and that is Owen Sound, ON. The group of family, emergency, and specialty physicians were such a supportive network of mentors and I think they really helped develop me into the physician I am today.

What have some of the communities you’ve worked in taught you?

Being a locum in a new community teaches you to be very adaptable and to rely on your team and your community. I am always the new person, so the nurses that have been there for 20 years and the patients that know their community better than anyone else are experts in things I won’t know. I’ve been so humbled by the communities I have met, especially in their openness and generosity to welcome me, even if I am only there for a few short weeks.

What advice do you have for women entering the EM field?

I think it is natural for all physicians to have some degree of imposter syndrome, but it is even more pronounced for people who feel that one part of their identity doesn’t fit perfectly within the EM ‘mold’. A reminder that EM physicians are as diverse as the patients that we serve, so if you’re interested in EM and you love the field, you belong in it.

2020 CAEP Residents of the Year: Dr. Annie Finlayson & Dr. Christine Hanna

Dr. Annie Finlayson is a staff Emergency physician in Winnipeg, MB. She works at St. Boniface Hospital, Health Sciences Centre: Children’s Emergency, and as a Transport Physician for STARS. She completed her medical degree and FRCPC training at the University of Manitoba and is originally from Winnipeg.

Dr. Christine Hanna is a staff Emergency physician at Belleville General Hospital and Medical Director of the Division of Emergency Medicine at Quinte Health Care. She completed her medical degree at the University of Birmingham in England, UK and completed her Family Medicine and CCFP(EM) residency at Queen’s University and is originally from Toronto, ON. 

They are the 2020 CAEP Residents of the Year. The Women in Emergency Medicine Committee sat down with Drs. Finlayson & Hanna virtually.

Submitted by Marika Moskalyk January 30, 2021

Why did you choose to pursue a career in Emergency Medicine and why the FRCPC versus the CCFP route?

C: I completed medical school in England, so in all honesty I didn’t really know that you could do Emergency Medicine after training in Family. It wasn’t something that was on my radar at all. I chose Family Medicine because I knew that I loved the variety and patient populations. After I started my FM training at Queen’s, I began to also explore EM and I absolutely loved it. I completed my CCFP-EM year at Queen’s and I’m now in my first year of practice.

I think having this extra training in Family works really well in the ED, because a lot of patients we see don’t have primary care doctors and so a lot of presentations are primary care concerns in nature. It’s really nice to have that additional background. It also means that when discharging patients back to the care of their family physician, we have firsthand experience of what that’s like being on the receiving end. It’s also so great that there are two routes to practicing EM because it brings two different perspectives and experiences to the department; it makes for a really successful and collegial place to work.

A: I applied and interviewed for several 5-year EM programs across the country, but I actually ranked the Northern Manitoba Family Medicine program second overall. I was a bit torn between FM and EM, but I ultimately chose the 5-year program because I knew that working as an Emergency physician was an end goal for me and so I wanted to focus my training on this and also have the ability to work in a tertiary care centre anywhere.

What has been your transition to practice year been like?

A: I felt ready for practice this year. I chose to work extra hours in the ICU during my PGY 3 & 4 years and on top of an already long 5-year residency those experiences definitely added to my confidence. Emergency Medicine is such a humbling field in that you could train for 20 years and still go to work and learn something new. It’s been great so far and I’m learning tons.

C: I also felt quite prepared and knew I had the training I needed to function independently in the ED, but I think the biggest jump from residency to staff was learning how to navigate department management. Everywhere that I had worked up until this point had several different sections of the department, with designated residents and staff in each. Where I work now in Belleville, our overnight shifts, as an example, only have a single staff physician, which has added a different level of complexity to managing the ED.

A: I completely agree with Christine about department management being the biggest learning curve. One thing that has been really nice about transition to practice is having full autonomy. As a staff, you are accountable to your patients and to yourself (and of course the medical college and standard of care in a more abstract way), but you no longer need to balance your style with the style and preferences of the attending physician under whose license you are practicing. In addition, I found that several times as a resident, even late into residency when I was completely managing a patient or a resuscitation, teammates would direct questions to the staff rather than to me. As a new staff this year, this title has helped reinforce people’s judgement of my capabilities and in turn my own confidence in myself. I suspect that this experience is more pronounced for female residents.

Could you speak to some of the strategies that you experienced during residency that helped mitigate this?

A: One thing I found really helpful was working with staff who would make a conscious effort in a resus situation to make it known to the team I was leading it. One of my mentors, Dr. Tamara McColl always made a point of explicitly saying something like, “Dr. Finlayson is going to be running this resuscitation, please direct all questions you have to her” and I appreciated this so much. I think having both men and women colleagues do that for learners and for each other can make a huge difference. This is definitely something I try to reflect in my leadership as staff.

Manitoba has a great simulation program. In residency I had opportunities to SIM with interdisciplinary teams. When you SIM with the whole team, it reinforces a collaborative approach to care. I found that when I participated in simulation with nurses going through resus training, when I was in resus with them later on it was more natural. I think this is one example of how culture can change to normalize closed loop communication, a culture of safety and one where everyone on the team feels valued and respected.

Who have been some of your greatest mentors?

C: I think I really understood the importance of mentorship when I came back to Canada for residency. I didn’t really have a mentor in England, and I didn’t know what I was missing until I met what was a mentor. During my family medicine PGY-1 year, I remember being in a clinic with three complete powerhouse women, Dr. Ruth Wilson, Dr. Jane Griffiths and Dr. Susan MacDonald. Each were incredible and unique in their approach. Dr Wilson is one of those people that was always unapologetic in supporting women in medicine. She is also quietly confident about her excellence, which is so refreshing and inspiring. Working as Dr. Wilson’s resident was one of the first times that I realized that I didn’t need to make myself feel small to fit in this space in medicine. She has this saying that I’ve carried with me, “Just say yes,” Jump into opportunities, don’t over think things, just go for it (within reason, of course). And since then it’s served me well. It’s the mantra I’ve carried with me as I aimed for Program Chief resident then PGY3 Chief resident and now as Medical Director at QHC. Just say yes.

Recently, one of my mentors in Emergency Medicine, but also a friend, has been Dr. Liz Blackmore who is a CCFP-EM at Queen’s. Liz is no nonsense, and I love her for it. I recently stepped into a new role as Medical Director of Emerg at QHC and Liz is one of the people that I talked with when I decided to take on this role. Her take was so inspiring. She reminded me that, “yes, it is a big jump and yes it’s out of my comfort level but that growth happens outside of your comfort level”. We talked for a bit about how women need to encourage women, uplift them, ask how they can support them instead of telling them how “crazy” they must be for thinking big.  She’s so incredible, I’m really lucky to know her.

A: Two of my biggest role models in medical school were instrumental in my choosing Emergency Medicine, Dr. Teresa Wawrykow and Dr. Merril Pauls. Dr. Pauls taught medical ethics to the medical students and I was inspired by his patient-centered approach. In residency, I’ve been so lucky to have been mentored by Dr. Carolyn Snider who worked in Winnipeg before stepping into the Chief of Emergency Medicine role at St. Mike’s. I could go on for hours about all the people who have supported me in my career, I have been very lucky.

What do you see the WEM committee’s role is in working in part of a larger group to develop equity, diversity and inclusivity in Emergency Medicine in Canada?

A: I know that CAEP is working to pay more attention to representation within the organization. It’s great to see that the CAEP President is female. In conversation with some of my other female colleagues, some of them have identified the significant impact that pregnancy has on careers in medicine. Many workplaces don’t have a return to work orientation or transition plans, and so I think that guidelines from CAEP that support maternity and paternity leave would be extremely impactful. Here in Winnipeg, the department I work in purposefully schedules meetings for mid-morning because as a family friendly workplace, they have identified that school drop-off times are usually around 8:30am when meetings have historically been scheduled. I think CAEP has an important role in facilitating conversations, policies and guidelines around how to make departments more inclusive and accessible so that it starts to become the norm.

C: I totally agree with this. CAEP should continue to amplify female and underrepresented groups’ voices. There is this great saying of, “you can’t be what you can’t see”. So, if you don’t see women and diverse people as leaders in EM and that being the norm, then it’s hard to see yourself in that role and then work towards it. I also think it’s so important to recognize and respect that the definition of women is changing and it’s not just anyone that is born genetically female. We need to support all people who identify as a woman and CAEP has a role in this.

Can you speak about your experiences as a female resident? What barriers do you feel exist for women in medicine and what do you feel are some solutions to addressing these?

A: I think female residents experience a disproportionate amount of feedback on leadership style or even personality, such as comments on decisiveness or confidence or the volume of their voice, rather than the medical knowledge they have, and these may be based on gendered assumptions. I think it’s important to be critical of the feedback you receive and recognize that sometimes there is feedback that you don’t need to accept carte blanche and isn’t necessarily constructive.

C: One way I think we can work to addressing these barriers is to support each other as women, loudly and often. Often I’ve noticed, and from personal experience, that when you aim big and have a big goal, sometimes others try to dissuade you. As women, we have such an important job and we should be asking, “how can I support you and what can I do to make you successful?” Dr. Liz Blackmore is someone who really did that for me.

A: I also think it’s so key that we support women no matter what they choose to do with their lives–whether it’s being a great mom or being the chief director of the department. It’s not only a question of “what can I do to support you in this very senior role”, but “how can I support you in whatever you find valuable and important?”.

What advice do you have for women entering the EM field?

C: Sexism is real in Emergency Medicine – with patients and sometimes colleagues, too, unfortunately. I recognize that a lot of work has been done and it was much worse, so I acknowledge that struggle that women physicians had before. But unfortunately, it still exists, enough that it forces us to practice differently and adapt in a way that men don’t. I don’t think it does us any good as Emergency Physicians not to point that out directly. We need to have more of these conversations where we bring this issue out into the light. We need to know that, not to be upset by it, but to understand that we all have some work to do to change that, and that includes some day-to-day navigating this issue.

A: Find and ask for mentorship. Seek it out if it is not provided to you. So much of the opportunities that we can have come from networking and being connected with people. Committees like WEM are key to finding women who are willing to actively do mentorship and they are really important in changing the culture.

Catching up with CAEP President, Dr. Kirsten Johnson

Dr. Kirsten Johnson is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at McGill University’s Health Centre Hospitals in Montreal and Nunavik, Northern Quebec. She was recently appointed as CAEP President and is the organization’s third female President. She received her medical degree from the University of Calgary and completed residencies in Family and Emergency Medicine at McGill University. Following her residency, Dr. Johnson earned a Master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Global Health and completed a Humanitarian Studies Fellowship at Harvard University. She is also the founder of Humanitarian U and the McGill Humanitarian Studies Initiative (HSI).

 The CAEP Women in Emergency Medicine Committee sat down virtually with Dr. Johnson while she was working in Beirut, Lebanon as part of the UK-Med Emergency Medical Response Team working to manage COVID-19 cases.

Submitted by Marika Moskalyk December 6, 2020

Why did you choose a career in Emergency Medicine? Can you talk about how your career path has led you to the global health work you do today?

I decided to pursue Emergency Medicine because I knew that I wanted to do global health work. In fact, global health is actually what got me interested in medicine in the first place. I was working in Nepal in 1998 for an organization that provided medical services to rural parts of the country. After this experience, I decided I wanted to pursue medicine because I knew that it would ensure I had the skillset, tools and competencies that would allow me function autonomously in resource-limited settings. For me, this meant a residency in Family Medicine followed by a plus one in Emergency Medicine. I chose to train at McGill because I wanted my French to be solid. I also do a lot of work in Nunavik, Quebec in the Inuit and Cree territories and there you really see everything, which is why it’s so important to have a wide set of competencies and emergency skills to feel prepared to handle anything. Then after my residency, I did a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Global Health at Harvard and then stayed on and did a fellowship in Humanitarian Studies. So I think I had a really solid start to global health work.


How has global health education become such a large aspect of your career? Can you talk about how Humanitarian U was started?

Part of my work as a fellow at Harvard in the Humanitarian Studies program was in education. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative was just started at that time and I was actually one of the founding members that developed the education and simulation arm of the program. After the Haiti earthquake in 2010, it became evident that the humanitarian response was arguably worse than the impact of the earthquake itself, and there was a massive gap in high quality training of humanitarian teams. There was over 3000 hospitals and organizations from around the world that sent in medical teams to Haiti and most of them had never attended a humanitarian response before and did not have any training whatsoever in humanitarian response. After Haiti 2010, the WHO mandated that anyone that would be involved in a humanitarian response needed formalized training, and this is how the Emergency Medical Team initiative was born. In fact, that is exactly what I am working under right now while I am here in Beirut.

I founded Humanitarian U because of the need for competency based, high quality disaster response and humanitarian training. Humanitarian U is now one of the only globally accredited organizations in humanitarian response that delivers professional certification and training to humanitarian workers around the world. We partner with Disaster Ready which is one of the largest active online user-based systems in humanitarian response. Just last year we trained over 10,000 people.


How has your career shaped and changed since you first started practicing Emergency Medicine and where do you see yourself in the next 10-15 years?

Academic Emergency Medicine is very different now than it was when I first started practicing. I have found it increasingly challenging to balance working a full-time EM schedule while also doing global health fieldwork, research, academic work and managing my responsibilities with CAEP and Humanitarian U.

I know that doing all these other things makes me a better doctor and a better person, but it is exhausting too and I’m realizing that I can’t do it all–I mean no one can. I find that when I come back from humanitarian work abroad, I’m able to better care for my patients; I have more space for them emotionally and I think that’s really important. I love the global health work I do and I don’t want to stop doing that. I took the year off from working full-time EM to reset, which has been really nice and much needed.

I usually work about 12 weeks a year in Nunavik, where there are 18 Inuit villages and 12 Cree villages. I cover mostly the Inuit villages. I really love the time I spend in these communities. I would like to continue doing this.


What are some of your primary goals in your term as CAEP President?

It’s really about a collective grassroots approach for me. I want people to feel like they can approach me with concerns, ideas, and barriers they feel exist within CAEP. I see myself as almost a vessel for people to streamline ideas through so we can make things happen together as a collective. One of my main goals is to bring women and underrepresented groups in EM to the forefront of these conversations, so that they feel like CAEP is a place for them. Part of my goals include holding several focus groups over my term, working with the EDI advisory group that I just started to increase involvement and representation within CAEP and to understand the barriers that exist within our organization. I also think that CAEP has a responsibility to support global health initiatives and I would like to facilitate this.


What do you see the WEM committee’s role is in working in part of a larger group to develop equity, diversity and inclusivity in Emergency Medicine in Canada?

The WEM group is essential to this and I plan to rely on your team and the rest of sub-committees to help inform decisions that will help CAEP move towards Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. I am very hopeful for the upcoming generation of physicians and I believe that we can set an equal playing field for women in Emergency Medicine. I strongly believe that we need more women in EM and WEM is an important player to making this a reality. I was so impressed with your Position Statement and its completeness and all the work that has gone into planning for the 2021 Academic Symposium.


What advice do you have for women entering the EM field?

Biggest advice is to pick a group of colleagues that really suits you and will support you in your career. Your colleagues will become your family, and it is so important that you find the people that will have your back when things get tough. We work hard in EM and it’s a very exciting career, but it can be gruelling, and burnout is real. Take some time off to enjoy your life and keep doing the things you love to do outside of EM as well, because those things will keep you well!

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