Celebrating Canadian Women Physicians Day

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Dr. Jehier Kamal Afifi is a Neonatologist and Chair of Neonatal Safety Quality & Outcome Surveillance, IWK Health. She leads nationally and internationally in the areas of quality improvement, brain health and neuroprotection and neurodevelopment of high-risk infants.

“Prioritizing family is not something to be explained to others, it is honor and credibility of women physicians.”

“Be ambitious and find a mentor and role model to look up to in your career. Women physicians face many challenges and there are active initiatives and groups to support professional development and wellness of women working in different domains in healthcare globally.”

Dr. Sabina Abdi is Associate Chief of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at IWK Health. As Head of the IWK Early Psychosis Clinic Abdi works with youth who are at risk for or have a primary psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.

“Do not shy away from leadership opportunities; we need more women in leadership roles in health. Listen to colleagues when they counsel that you could be great at something; they are right.”

Dr. Jennifer Foster is a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) physician. Along with improving the experience of PICU care for critically ill children and their families at IWK and around the Maritimes Foster also is medical oversight physician for LifeFlight.

“Medical practice is just that – practice. Reflect on any feedback you receive, avoid deflecting, forgive yourself, and learn from it. We grow when we embrace these experiences as opportunities to improve as physicians.”

“Physicians are questioned by others all the time. Female physicians experience this more than their male counterparts. Trust in your knowledge and experience and expertise – you are not an imposter. “

Dr. Sarah Cook is a family physician and Chief of Family Medicine for the IWK Department of Family Medicine-Maternal Newborn Care. Cook sees her purpose as enabling others to achieve health and wellness, whether this is enabling colleagues to serve patients with the highest quality, or enabling patients to define and achieve their health and wellness goals.

“You can do anything, but not everything, and definitely not all at once. Pick a path that will allow evolution and growth through your career (which is why I am such a fan of family medicine! Never ending learning and opportunities to have impact). We are so privileged to hear and hold people’s stories every day – I think acknowledging this privilege may be one of the most powerful buffers to burnout.”

Dr. Alexa Bagnell, is Chief of Psychiatry at IWK Health. Her clinical work and research focuses on the assessment and treatment of OCD and anxiety disorders in children and youth, and the promotion of earlyintervention and treatment for anxiety, with a focus on e-health programs.

“Choose areas of focus that matter to you and that you care about. This is where you will do your best work.  Your career is not a race, you can pace yourself and change what you do over time.  You will be happier with your professional life if you take the time and space for your personal life.”

Dr. Kellie Davis is a medical geneticist who sees mostly children suspected of having a genetic syndrome and adults with cancer that may have an inherited component.

“Keep an open mind and explore as many types of practice as you can; you might surprise yourself and enjoy or discover skills in an area you never considered.  There are so many ways to have a career in Medicine beyond the clinic.

Dr.Kirstin Weerdenburg is a pediatrician, Pediatric Emergency Physician,  Pediatrician & Pediatric Trauma Team Leader who also practices medical journalism to inform the public about important topics related to medicine, ensuring the prevention of pediatric trauma and injuries, and enhancing the health of children that are newcomers to Canada.

“Seek out personal fulfillment and enjoyment in life, whether it is something big or small, both inside and outside of medicine. My passion outside of medicine is figure skating, and I still compete as a synchronized figure skater. I highly recommend watching it if you haven’t before, it’s quite amazing to see 16 figure skaters skating together at the same time.”

Dr. Jessica Mills is a Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgeon at the IWK who cares for patients from premature infants all the way up to young adults in the management of surgical conditions of the chest wall, lungs, abdomen and groin.

“You don’t have to do the job the way the people before you have done it; keep an open mind about what your practice could look like.”

Dr. Sarah Manos photo by Ryan Wilson IWK Health

Dr. Sarah Manos is a General Consultant Pediatrician at IWK Health who cares for both inpatients and outpatients.

“It’s important to remember that your best might look different every day.  Some days you may be able to live up to your own high expectations but some days it’s ok to just strive to be adequate, safe and respectful.”