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From the Frontlines

Amid these challenging times, many people have been encouraged to work from home. Healthcare workers have not had this luxury afforded to them, and continue to put themselves at risk each and everyday. See how Natasha is making a difference as an Ambassador for the Hospital for Sick Children.


Where do you work?  

The Hospital For Sick Children

 

What is your current field of study/area of work?

I joined the Division of Emergency Medicine in July 2018 as an Attending Physician in Emergency Medicine. Over two years I have subsequently taken on a prominent role in the Simulation Program with a focus on Trauma training, been appointed as a Program Director for the Community PEM Focused Fellowship Program, a Hospital Site coordinator for the Emergency Medicine Resident Training Program, Involved in hospital system improvement projects and most recently handpicked to be a hospital Peer Support Mentor.

 

Educational Background: After my time at Del

I received a double major in Health Sciences and Psychology at the University of Western Ontario. I graduated from the Medical University of the Americas in 2011 and later completed a three-year Pediatric Residency followed by a three-year Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at Akron Children's Hospital in Ohio. 

In my first year at Sick Kids, while being a staff, I also completed a one-year fellowship in Simulation in Medicine.  

 

What are some initiatives you are working on, and how did the ideas for your initiative arise?

Over the last two years, my passion for Simulation Medicine and Trainee Education has grown exponentially. My current focus is building and growing the Simulation Trauma Training Curriculum both within the ER and more recently hospital-wide by using robotics and re-created real-life scenarios to improve management of our patients. I am also currently exploring opportunities to enhance Emergency Resident Trainee Education, International education and awareness in Simulation Medicine and Institutional Peer Support/Mentorship.

 

Additionally, I have recently been appointed as a Sick Kids Ambassador and have been involved in the most recent billion-dollar Sick Kids VS campaign, featured in my own commercial, bringing awareness to the everyday physician struggle. Education has been at the center of all my training and clinical work. Recently I have expanded my passion for Public Education from the institutional level to social media, being a recognized Public Figure for information on common pediatric illnesses while focusing on encouraging parents on how to be the best advocate for their children. 

 

Current experience with the pandemic – your work, response, etc.

As an ER physician, we are truly on the frontline of the healthcare system. This pandemic has brought about both professional and personal growth. First, the pandemic has changed the flow of how we work in the ER and has challenged us to change system processes and standardizing patient management in a short period of time. Overall, the daily number of visits has lessened, but the level of acuity has not changed, and not everything we are seeing is COVID related illnesses. What people forget is that even with COVID, the ER never stops. The ER family is always very supportive and encouraging of each other, and since the pandemic hit, that has only strengthened. Initially, there were so many unknown factors and variables that it was scary for everyone, and we relied on one another to get through it. It has definitely made us all stronger individually and as a department. Personally, it's heightened my awareness of how quickly things can change, so being truly present with your loved ones every day and appreciative of the simple things takes priority. It has also made me grateful for being in a position to help, despite the trials and fears that come with it every single day. 

 

How are your family and friends coping with the current situation?

Everyone is managing as best as they can. We are all experiencing what's known as a "collective trauma". Everyone is perceiving and processing it differently and at different rates. I think what's most important is that we all recognize that this isn't the ideal scenario but that the only way to beat this and get through it, is together. We live in a very technological world, where staying in touch is not difficult, for that we are thankful, and we are using that to the fullest. 

 

How did your experience at DEL help inspire your career?

My experience at DEL was unforgettable. I may not have acknowledged it fully when I was living it, but I can confidently say that many of my successes were due to the skills I developed in my five years. I wasn't just an academic person, I was also very sports focused (within DEL and at the club level). My success in both sports and academia both then and after, was due to the fact that I learned extremely valuable lessons in time management, high-quality study techniques, prioritizing and overall a healthy sense of balance in my life. I had administration and teachers who provided a health form of authority and compassion when I struggled but were also the same individuals who were the first to celebrate my successes. DEL played a part in shaping me into the person and physician I am today, and for that, I am forever thankful. 

 

What are some of the things you miss most about DEL?

I really miss some of the amazing and close friendships I had developed with my fellow classmates but also with many of the teachers over the years. After graduating, many of us tried to keep in touch, but life takes people in different directions. I am, however, fortunate to say that I still keep in touch or see some of my most closest friends and get the opportunity to spend time talking about the "good ol DEL days". 

 

How can our alumni help support your work?

Allowing me to share my story was an honor and it shows a commitment by the alumni to want to reconnect with past students. That is a form of support that is extremely valuable. Success comes in many forms, but the reality is, it can't be done alone. Just being more involved with an alumni group opens up the possibility of connecting with people who may have similar interests or are on similar paths that eventually leads to mentorship, new projects, events celebrating similar interests or even reconnecting old friends. I feel like just asking me to talk about my path, my current vocation and my interests already opens up the door to many new possibilities of future collaborations around the corner.