I am the I in IWK – Dr. Ena Vukatana, Dr. Elizabeth McLaughlin and Dr. Joanne Gillespie

Posted by

With a current complement of over 50 psychologists, two psychometrists, and a feeding specialist, psychology at the IWK is a large and dynamic discipline. IWK psychologists provide clinical care to infants, children and adolescents with a wide range of pediatric, developmental, acquired, and mental health disorders on an outpatient, inpatient, and day treatment basis. They are also actively involved in clinical care, teaching, and research.

Dr. Ena Vukatana, Dr. Elizabeth McLaughlin and Dr. Joanne Gillespie are clinical psychologists who work as part of the IWK’s Pediatric Health Psychology Service providing assessment and treatment to youth with acute and chronic medical conditions. Their role is to support youth and their families in navigating the challenges that can arise when faced with diverse medical procedures or conditions.

“I completed my pre-doctoral residency in psychology at the IWK in 2016-17, and I saw firsthand the exceptional work that takes place here,” says Vukatana. “For me, the things that stand out about the IWK are the emphasis on outstanding patient care and the collaboration between different disciplines. As part of our service, we often work closely with a variety of other services and medical teams across the health centre, and it is this collaboration that allows us to provide the best care for our patients.”

Dr. Joanne Gillespie grew up in rural Nova Scotia and knew the IWK was a special place when she visited as a child. Though she went away for graduate school she hoped she would be able to return to Nova Scotia to practice and raise a family.

“I love having the opportunity to work with children,” says Gillespie. “It is especially rewarding when you’re able to help someone do something that they had been struggling with and then see them experience pride in their accomplishments. Every day is little bit different and I’m continuously learning about new diagnoses, medical procedures, and treatments.”

As Coordinator of Clinical Training for IWK Psychology Gillespie also oversees pre-doctoral residents matched at the IWK for a one year internship towards the end of their PhD training.

“I’m excited to see what my new role as training coordinator will bring and hope to build upon our already excellent residency program at the health centre.” Says Gillespie

For Dr. Elizabeth McLaughlin it is the people that motivate her every day.

“We work with wonderful and unique children, teens, caregivers, and colleagues,” says McLaughlin. “Our role is to combine the resilience and skills of the families with whom we work, with evidence based psychological treatments, and the knowledge and expertise of our multidisciplinary colleagues, to help ease the burden that acute and chronic medical conditions can have.”