Leadership driven by compassion and curiosity

Dr. Shannon Prud’homme installed as new president of Doctors Manitoba

by Robin Summerfield

Dr. Shannon Prud’homme started her career as a physician working on a patient she knew very, very well: herself.

As a young girl visiting her paediatrician, Dr. Prud’homme would often play with the instruments, and even check her own blood pressure.

“That’s where it all began. I was really curious. I have always been curious,” says Dr. Prud’homme, who was recently installed as Doctors Manitoba President.

That curiosity about human biology, health, and the science of ourselves, never waned. Dr. Prud’homme also discovered another important motivator a few years later: compassion. As a teenager, Dr. Prud’homme realized she really wanted to help people. Becoming a doctor would marry that curiosity with compassion. So Dr. Prud’homme set her sights on becoming a physician.

She became the first one in her family to graduate from university. At the University of Manitoba, she earned her Bachelor of Science in 1993, and completed her Doctor of Medicine in 1998. Rural medicine followed with a Family Medicine Residency through the Parkland Region in Western Manitoba.

In residency, she found her true calling: becoming a rural doctor. From 2000 to 2009, Dr. Prud’homme was a full-time locum family doctor, serving communities throughout Manitoba. She practiced in 44 communities before settling in Treherne, Manitoba in 2009. Today, she is happily ensconced in the town of about 700 people.

“I love the full-scope of practice as a family doctor in rural Manitoba. So, being able to cover the emergency, going to the care homes, to clinics, to the hospital, having all of that care was very satisfying. I work as a hospitalist, an emergency doctor, a generalist, I do plastic surgeries, prenatal care, and palliative care. We do all of that and that’s the crux of it,” says Dr. Prud’homme. “It’s extremely challenging. You don’t get bored in your career.”

But that passion goes deeper than the professional satisfaction of seeing and treating a broad range of conditions, she says.

“It’s the patients. You get to know the parents, the grandparents, the kids. Absolutely you develop relationships with patients, and the trust that is built within that multi-generational relationship is significant. And the continuity that you provide to them is, I think, a really, really important aspect to their care,” says Dr. Prud’homme.

Beyond medicine, Dr. Prud’homme has the leadership bug. Under a Minister of Health appointment, she currently serves on Manitoba’s Drug Standards and Therapeutics Committee. Over the years, she has also served on committees and boards, as a representative or as a member, for the College of Family Physicians of Canada; the Family Medicine Privileges Advisory Committee; the Canadian Medical Association; Canadian Society of Physician Leaders, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, College of Family Physicians of Canada; and Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians.

In short, she is committed to the practice and profession of medicine on all fronts.

Dr. Prud’homme is also taking her Masters of Business Administration at the University of Manitoba and the Directors Education Program through the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Her advocacy on the Doctors Manitoba Board started in 2014 and continued on the executive when she was appointed honourary secretary in 2015. In May 2018, she was installed as Doctors Manitoba President in ceremonies held at the annual awards dinner and AGM at Winnipeg’s Fort Garry Hotel. She takes over from Dr. Aaron Chiu, who is a neonatologist at the Children’s Hospital and St. Boniface General Hospital. He served as president for the 2017-18 term. Dr. Prud’homme becomes the head of the Board as Doctors Manitoba turns the page on its own new chapter. After 22 years with the organization, CEO Bobby Cram retired in early 2018. Former Manitoba Health Minister Theresa Oswald, most recently the executive director of the Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg, has taken over the helm at Doctors Manitoba as its new CEO.

Dr. Prud’homme promises to continue the work of caring for doctors in her new role as president of the Board.

“Doctors Manitoba’s goal, the mission is really to advocate for physicians. And having the opportunity to give back to the profession and to contribute to improving the well-being of physicians, for me is really rewarding,” she says.

Advocating for doctors and looking out for their well-being is for Manitobans too, she says.

“You need to have a strong healthy, well-supported group of physicians because they are much better able to provide care to their patients when they are healthy, strong, and supported. That’s why it’s really important to me because ultimately, if you don’t have that physician workforce, then the patients suffer.”