Q&A with Dr. Shannon Prud’homme

Meet Doctors Manitoba’s new president-elect

Dr. Shannon Prud’homme is a devoted family physician based in Treherne. She has worked in 44
communities in Manitoba during her 17 years practicing medicine. She was also Doctors Manitoba Honorary Treasurer (2016-17), one of many leadership roles she has taken during the course of her busy career. In addition, the 45-year-old, was recently installed as the new president-elect on the board of directors for Doctors Manitoba. We wanted to get to know her better.

Dr. Shannon Prud'hommeWhat do you love to do when you’re not working?
I love to stay active and to travel. If I can do both at the same time, it’s great. In October I hiked multiple parts of the Great Wall of China, and I just returned from a trip to Zambia.

What did you want to be growing up? And if you weren’t a doctor, what would you be?
Always a doctor. Well, OK, maybe for a short time around five-years-old, I wanted to be a ballerina (what little girl didn’t want to be one). And for a short time around the 1984 Olympics, I wanted to be an Olympic athlete, but otherwise always a doctor. I wanted to be a physician since I was 12-years-old. I honestly didn’t have anything else on my list so I count myself very blessed to have been accepted into medicine. If I have to reflect on what else I would do, I have to think in terms of where would I feel that I was contributing to improving the human condition and where could I have anything close to the satisfaction that I gain from my role as a rural family physician. In that case, then I think I would ideally be working for an agency like the United Nations or the WHO in some capacity.

What was the moment in your medical career, where you realized ‘I love my job?’
It was the middle of the night, on call one night in a small rural community. I was extremely fatigued, as we often are at 2 a.m. I had a frail, elderly patient present in severe congestive heart failure. She was slow to respond to medical treatment and this would require me to transfer her by ambulance to an ICU. I had a serious conversation with her and her family about the gravity of the situation, especially given her frail state. They were so very appreciative of the care and the explanation of the situation regardless of the potentially dire outcome. At that moment, the family’s compassion made me realize that patients come to us when they are in need of help. Whether it is an emergency, an urgent situation, or one where they are anxious and need help with something that they simply cannot manage on their own. It’s not always at a convenient time, it’s not always at the recommended location, and it doesn’t always follow our expectations but ultimately the patient is in need of help. As physicians we have been given the training and the tools to offer this help and I find it an honour to be invited into these episodes in the lives of my patients.

What has been the hardest thing about being a doctor?
There are definitely challenges to being a doctor. Long days and nights of work and study, missing out on certain activities with family and friends, and the ultimate responsibility for the well being of your patients. However, these things lead to such great reward and satisfaction that I would not trade them.

You have spent your career as a rural physician. What do you love about having a rural practice?
I love the people. Being slightly isolated, you get to know people and their families really well when they are sick, and when they are well. Also, I love the broad and varied scope of practice. You also really work as a team because you are dependent on your colleagues and other health care workers in order to make the system work 24 hours a day.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about physician burnout. How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
There are three things that contribute to my well-being. Firstly, I exercise. Secondly, I love my job, but I take time away from work. Being in a stable call system, I know I can leave after work when I’m not on call, or go away on vacation, and my patients and my practice will be well looked after. Thirdly, I practice in a close collegial relationship where we look after our in-patients together, review difficult cases, and really avoid working in isolation.

What’s your most treasured possession?
Most treasured possession? Of course there are lots of material things, but I think my most treasured possession has to be my sense of humour. Although I do keep it quite guarded.

Who do you admire?
All of my many colleagues over the years, who have been committed to great patient care and the practice of medicine.

What do you despise? Bullying

What’s your best character trait? Fair-mindedness

Why have you devoted a lot of your time to being on boards, including Doctors Manitoba?
Throughout my career I’ve always been involved in helping physicians. Doing locums for the first nine years of my career, I was motivated by the need that physicians had for locum coverage. My work enabled them to get away on vacation, take time off for the birth of their child, or just not be the only one on call in a community for an entire month. So joining the Board of Doctors Manitoba aligned well with my passion for advocating for the needs of physicians.

What’s your idea of success?
Success means loving the job that I do, being able to provide for myself and support my family in the things that they do, and being able to contribute to my profession and the medical community.

What are you taking at Asper School of Business? Why? And why is continuing your education important to you?
I am completing my masters of business administration at the Asper School of Business. Through this I want to broaden my knowledge of business practice. With each course that I take I try to look at what can be applied to health care and how it can lead to improvements for patient care in the complex system that we work in.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years I see myself in some blend of clinical practice and administrative work. The profession offers many opportunities to contribute to both patient care and to the ongoing development of the profession and the health care system. I’m not sure exactly what that will look like, but I am always open to expanding my knowledge and taking on new challenges.

What is your current state of mind?
I think I am in a pretty rational place. I can enjoy the ups and downs, the successes and the disappointments and I know that the experiences make me richer.

Editor’s note: some answers have been condensed.